Skip to main content

Electric School Bus Evaluation

Photo of children boarding school bus.

NREL is evaluating the performance of electric and conventional school buses operated by two California school districts.
Photo courtesy of School Bus Fleet Magazine

NREL is evaluating the in-service performance of electric school buses and comparable conventional school buses operated by the Napa Valley Unified School District and the Torrance Unified School District in California.

Launched in 2015, the on-road portion of this evaluation involves collecting and analyzing operational, performance, and cost data from the vehicles under study. To date, NREL has collected data from the baseline conventional buses and plans to collect similar data for the electric buses when they are put into service next year. Retrofitted by TransPower, the electric buses will feature vehicle-to-grid (V2G) integration capabilities enabling them to feed power back to the grid and essentially serve as mobile power generators.

Based on the field data, NREL will develop a school bus drive cycle using the Drive-Cycle Rapid Investigation, Visualization, and Evaluation tool and construct a vehicle model using the Future Automotive Systems Technology Simulator. Relevant data pertaining to school bus drive cycles and their electrification potential will be added to the Fleet DNA clearinghouse of fleet vehicle operating data.

NREL also plans to analyze fueling and maintenance data to support total-cost-of-ownership estimations and forecasts, which can be used to help determine the potential profitability of V2G school buses. Additionally, NREL will evaluate the hardware and controls associated with the buses' vehicle-to-grid functionality.