Nashua, New Hampshire, is getting two new diesel-electric buses to be paid for through a $1.1 million low or no Emission grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The buses are being manufactured by BAE at its plant in Endicott, New York.
BAE Systems launched its hybrid propulsion system about fifteen years ago. According to BAE vice president Steve Trichka, the company has quadrupled in size in the last four years and will sell its 10,000th bus this year.
BAE’s new vehicles are great improvements over its earlier models. In the current design, the diesel engine is only used to charge the battery, which means that where there is sufficient charging infrastructure, the buses can operate in pure electric mode. The buses have regenerative breaking, electric air compressors, and electric power steering. They also provide a lot of comfort for the passengers, including wheel-chair access and air conditioning.
Trichka said BAE is very interested in moving into the all-electric market. A problem standing in the way of that is that the infrastructure to charge buses is just not in place, except in places where government or utilities have been aggressively pursuing their installation. By supplying the buses with diesel engines, the batteries can be smaller and reliance on electric charging stations greatly reduced, so the buses can be operated in most communities.
Nashua has been moving away from a purely diesel bus fleet since last year, when it started replacing its older buses with new ones powered by compressed natural gas. A total of eight such buses were purchased.
Its new buses will provide the Nashua Transit Authority with the experience it needs to make a transition away from polluting vehicles. The Authority has a goal of reducing its emissions from vehicles 25% by 2025.