Santa Monica has arrived

Santa Monica Big Blue Bus

Public transit gets a charge

This month, Santa Monica came together to experience the clean power and potential - of the first-ever GILLIG battery electric bus, powered by Cummins. Everyone from local riders to government officials got to experience the latest in electric transit innovation.

Officially on board 

The battery electric bus was on display around town, from downtown to the pier. City Manager Rick Cole was one of several people to ride the bus and discover first-hand how it could be the answer to a greener future for the city.

“Getting on board this big, beautiful bus is the way of the future,” said Cole. 

The rollout of the bus is the first step in Big Blue Bus system’s transition to a clean energy fleet by 2030. Riders can experience the new zero-emission bus in service on regular routes in Santa Monica.

Built on experience

The battery electric bus is the latest innovation from the partnership between GILLIG and Cummins, two of the most respected names in heavy-duty transit.

With over 200 years of combined experience, GILLIG and Cummins have a long history of collaborating to develop power solutions for transit applications.

Cummins battery packs were designed specifically for GILLIG buses and feature a single-source system design for drive motor, battery management system, and energy storage.

“The drivers’ response to the new bus has been great,” said Hector Calvinisti, Transit Training Coordinator at Big Blue Bus.

“They are really surprised about how well it performs on our mobility landscape, especially when it goes up hills. The technology has really advanced over the past few years, so we are really fortunate to be able to work with the bus.”

This is just the beginning. The Cummins-powered GILLIG battery electric bus is now available to cities around the country. Read more about the zero-emission bus here.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Charging Infrastructure: Laying the Groundwork for the Future of Electrification

Power comes in many forms. For electric vehicles (EVs), it’s electricity. It sounds simple enough but transitioning a fleet to electrified power takes careful planning and a number of considerations in terms of infrastructure.

It’s easy to get excited about electrified transportation, but an EV ecosystem goes far beyond just placing an order for new vehicles and dropping a few chargers around town. Large-scale charging systems require robust infrastructure planning in tandem with your community or organization’s overall electrification strategy.

Here are five considerations you should make during infrastructure planning, and how to navigate some of the many decisions you’ll face along the way.

Feasibility

While an electrified transportation system is a powerful and effective solution for many cities around the world, fully electrified transit might not be the best choice for every community or every mission just yet.

Technology and infrastructure are advancing rapidly, but some localities may not yet have compatible grid power or electrical infrastructure to support large-scale EV adoption immediately. Even if the grid has enough power to support the electrification at the aggregate level, there can be local limitations and power may not be available at the location it is needed.

Similarly, the duty cycle of the mission can provide additional challenges. Consider conducting a feasibility study to see what the limitations will be, if any, should your town, city, or organization pursue electrified transportation. It can be helpful to get a third-party reality check to make sure your electrified ambitions are achievable with your community’s resources.

Even if there are challenges on the path of large-scale electrification, you’ll likely be able to start making infrastructure improvements and create a long-term plan to get your community to where it needs to be to support electrified transportation with some of the following considerations. 

Hardware

One of the first considerations in building out an electrified transportation system is your charging infrastructure — the nuts and bolts delivering power to your EV fleet. This includes the substation, power box, and charging unit. There are a lot of options currently out in the market, and a trusted advisor can help you navigate the many choices you’ll have for chargers and other hardware needed.

By examining your fleet, your city’s layout, existing infrastructure, and power availability, you’ll begin the process of deciding what chargers work best for your electrification strategy. But it goes beyond just selecting what chargers to buy — you’ll need to determine where they’ll be located, whether vehicles should charge fast or slow, what time vehicles will be charged, and more.

All of these decisions must be taken into consideration when selecting your fleet of EVs as well. Because of the complicated nature of planning, it’s helpful to bring on a full-service partner with experience strategizing all elements of your electrification journey — from chargers to vehicles and beyond.

Electric power charging infrastructure - Cummins Inc.

Routes

Route planning is another key aspect of infrastructure consideration for adopting an electric fleet. Not only do you need to decide if and where chargers will be placed along routes (as opposed to only in a charging depot), but where your electric vehicles will drive.

Though EV range is rapidly improving, transit authorities and city planners must accommodate for the potentially limited range of EVs compared to that of vehicles powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE). But this can rapidly become a chicken-and-the-egg situation: Should you purchase your fleet based on your route requirements, or should you adjust your route requirements based on your chosen vehicles?

Oftentimes, it’s a bit of both. That’s why route planning can be so complicated, and often requires an outside expert familiar with many vehicle models and their performance. It’s important to select a trusted manufacturer with a proven history of reliability, so your fleet can perform at its projected range and keep planned routes on track.

Grid power

A locality’s grid power puts the E in EV. To power an electric fleet, you need sufficient and reliable electricity. When planning your electrification infrastructure, evaluate the grid power and determine what kind of chargers and the quantity of EVs they can support — and when and where. The grid power your fleet will need will depend on the size of the battery in the vehicle, the energy requirement for the next day’s mission, and the available time for the charging event. 

Charging times can have a major impact on the overall cost of charging and will influence infrastructure design route planning as well. It may work best to charge your entire fleet overnight in a depot, or your grid power may better support staggered charging throughout the day, either in a depot or on route. Additionally, alternative charging strategies such as the use of microgrids can help reduce the amount of grid power required, and therefore the cost — though they also come with higher initial costs. 

Strategic planning

One of the most complicated aspects of planning for the transition to electrified power is that many of these decisions must happen in tandem with one another. Electrification isn’t a linear process, and it’s important to find a trusted partner well versed in all areas of consideration, as planning and implementation both are lengthy investments in terms of time and finances.

Cummins is working to explore electrification advisory services in the near future, so we can meet the growing needs of those interested in exploring electrification. From feasibility to planning, and all the way to purchasing and installing chargers, we’re looking forward to helping our customers and communities navigate all aspects of the journey to electrification.

As a supplier of diverse powertrain systems, Cummins looks forward to helping customers best plan for a future that includes electrified power. Over the past 100 years, we’ve partnered with customers around the world to find the power solutions that work for them.

 
Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Five key questions about the sustainability of electric vehicle batteries

You have questions about electric vehicle batteries, we have answers.

As demand for both commercial and private electric vehicles grow, so too will the need to develop sustainable solutions for dealing with the lithium-ion batteries they use.

Here are five key questions to consider.

What are the options when electric vehicle batteries reach the end of their useful life?

A: As things stand today - and as seen in the infographic below - there are three basic options: dispose, recycle, or reuse. Recycling lithium, however, can be tricky. It is a highly reactive element. Recycling plants capable of handling lithium-ion batteries are in the early stages of development.

With the negative environmental implications of disposal, reuse is quickly becoming the most viable option from both an environmental and economic standpoint. 

A new term is developing for this option: second-life batteries. 

Cummins Second Life Batteries - Infographic
As seen in the infographic above, there are three potential options for a battery after it has reached the end of its original use.

What are second-life batteries?

A: Lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicle applications operate under extremely demanding conditions and will eventually degrade to a point where their total usable capacity and other performance requirements no longer meet the standards placed upon them. 

While no longer enough for use in electric vehicles, these batteries still contain a lot of energy. They may contain 70% to 80% of their initial capacity, which means there’s still a lot of energy that could be used in other ways. 

Second-life batteries are electric vehicle batteries that have been repurposed, or given a second-life, for use in another less demanding application such as stationary energy storage. 

Why are second-life battery solutions important for electric vehicle manufacturers?

A: Fortunately, there’s a little time as the electronic vehicle industry ramps up. But as the metaphorical stockpile of partially used batteries continues to grow, manufacturers will be expected to have solutions in place that are both environmentally and economically sustainable. 

Second-life batteries are an environmentally responsible solution because they extract additional usable energy that would otherwise go to waste. This solution also delays the recycling process, allowing procedures to be developed and improved. 

Second-life batteries are an economically sustainable solution because they create an entirely new revenue stream for manufacturers. When their batteries are no longer suitable for use in an electric vehicle, manufacturers can remanufacture them to suit less-demanding applications, then resell them. This additional link in the automotive value chain is expected to be worth billions of dollars within the next few decades. 

What does this look like in the real world? 

A: The most common application for second-life batteries is stationary energy storage. This is because the application demands relatively low current and energy density from the battery pack compared to the automotive applications they were initially designed for. 

Stationary energy storage is important because it allows energy to be captured for future use. As the world continues to prioritize the shift to renewable and diversified energy sources, the ability to store energy can make those sources more robust and less dependent on traditional energy sources to fill any voids in the grid. 
So, what could this look like long-term and at scale? Over the next few decades, the amount of second-life batteries in use as stationary energy storage will result in the ability to store several terawatt-hours of energy.

What’s Cummins doing to help?

A: Cummins recently announced a multi-year partnership with the University of California San Diego, and its battery validation lab to analyze viable business and technical approaches to effectively reuse and repurpose electric vehicle batteries.

Under the agreement, the college will perform accelerated testing, real-world application testing, and develop an outdoor second-life demonstration system comprised of Cummins’ Goodwood battery modules. The batteries, once fully developed, will be used in both school and transit buses. 

The collaboration will enable Cummins to acquire valuable data on the aging of its battery modules, test integration solutions for second-life battery systems, and validate stationary energy storage system performance under energy storage applications for the grid.

This collaboration marks one of the first testing programs devoted exclusively to the testing of commercial batteries for second-life battery applications. 

Cummins is determined to work with the electronic vehicle manufacturers who use its products to ensure lithium batteries can be handled in both environmentally and economically sustainable ways. 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

Spot the Difference: Lithium Ion Versus Lead Acid Battery Electric Technology

Spot the difference: Lithium ion versus lead acid battery electric technology
As a provider of electrified power solutions, Cummins regularly receives questions on technologies facilitating the adoption of electric vehicles. One question that often comes up is ‘what is the difference between lead acid and lithium ion, and when should each battery type be used?’ 

Here are the top 3 differences between the two battery chemistries and some examples of which technology to opt for when going electric.

Lithium ion vs Lead acid battery
Full size infographic featured at the end of the article.

1. Cost 
This is usually the subject at the forefront of everyone’s minds and a key driver for deciding ‘what is the right product for my fleet?’. As is often the case, it is not a simple answer and cost effectiveness is really dependent on the needs of your application. Lead acid is a popular cost-effective battery chemistry, available in large quantities with little worries relating to security of the supply and in a variety of off the shelf pack sizes. Lead acid is great fit for large scale stationary applications where space is abundant and energy requirements are low. However, when you start looking at price in terms of the power or range, lithium ion technology can often be a more favorable option.

2. Energy and Range 
Comparing the two chemistries side-by-side, lithium ion achieves an energy density of 125-600+ Wh/L versus 50-90 Wh/L for lead acid batteries. In other words, if you were to drive the same distance using each type of batteries in an identical vehicle, the lead acid battery could take up to 10 times the volume that the lithium ion would, and it’s also heavier. Therefore, using lithium ion batteries allows space for other important payloads, for example, more passengers in a bus or more parcels in an electric delivery truck. A high energy density also affords the vehicle a much longer range, meaning the user does not need to charge as often when powered by lithium ion technologies. 

3. Charging 
Charging a lead-acid battery can take more than 10 hours, whereas lithium ion batteries can take from 3 hours to as little as a few minutes to charge, depending on the size of the battery. Lithium ion chemistries can accept a faster rate of current, charging quicker than batteries made with lead acid. This is critical for time-sensitive applications where vehicles have high utilization and fewer break intervals. In the case of a terminal tractor, every minute that the ship is docked at the port has financial repercussions on the fleet owner, so the battery must be charged quickly during breaks to load the ship.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to batteries, rather, it is about providing the right electric solution to meet the needs of the application. Cummins designs and sells flexible, scalable lithium ion batteries as a prime source of power for commercial vehicles, and other mobile and stationary applications. 

Learn more about how Cummins is leading the charge in electrification with its lithium ion battery portfolio and more news about electrified power

Lithium ion vs lead acid battery

 

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

3 Things to Know About Charging Your Electric Bus

Electric buses offer a promising opportunity for the future of transit. All-electric buses produce zero emissions, require significantly less maintenance, leverage connectivity and advanced telematics and offer cost savings compared to other powertrain systems.

With the recent launch of the GILLIG Battery Electric Bus, powered by Cummins, there are more opportunities than ever before for cities and organizations to explore the switch to electric vehicles. It is new territory in many applications, including public transit, school systems, and more — but exciting developments and rapidly advancing technology promise new opportunity for transformational innovation.

Managing an electric bus fleet can spark a variety of questions, including concerns about charging the vehicles properly and efficiently. Even though it sounds simple, there are many considerations beyond just plugging in. After all, most drivers have never had to charge a vehicle before! But don’t fret — we’ve broken down the three things you need to know about charging your electric bus.

Three things to know about charging your electric bus.

Vehicle range
Today’s electric buses offer impressive range, but any vehicle’s range can be affected by many factors, including weather, terrain, speed, number of stops, and even bus model.

All drivers should be aware of their vehicle’s average working range. It’s also important to calculate your vehicle’s range capabilities in a variety of situations and environments by collaborating with logistics professionals and engineers, so you’re always prepared for the road ahead. With this knowledge on hand, you’ll be able to plan routes and charging stops more effectively.

Charging infrastructure
As we continue to push forward into the future of electrification, many cities are actively improving the availability of charging stations. For example, Portland, Oregon plans to invest over $10M in a more robust charging infrastructure.

Infrastructure planning is an in-depth process that all transit agencies must take on when preparing to adopt or accommodate an electric fleet. City urban transit planners should also have a deep understanding of the vehicles a city plans to use. Drive cycles, routes and charge time will all help determine the quantity and location of charging stations.

Cities and transit authorities must thoughtfully prepare for the future of electrification beyond investing in just the vehicles themselves. With proper preparation, electrified transit promises to be a transformational opportunity in many cities across the world.

Route plan
Range anxiety is a common concern among electric vehicle adopters. Many new EV drivers worry about how far a vehicle will travel on a single charge, and they may be nervous about trusting even the most accurate, data-supported range estimates.

Careful route planning maximizes your drive time, ensuring you’ll get where you’re going and get power when you need it. Fleet managers work with engineers and researchers to carefully predict range based on the variety of factors mentioned earlier. Using that insight, fleet managers strategically plan routes, including stops and charging, to make sure you’re never left without a charge.

By considering all contributing factors, you’ll maximize the efficiency, safety and reliability of your electric bus and enjoy the many benefits that come with adopting an electric fleet. 

Learn more about how Cummins is leading the charge in electrification, and check out the launch of the Cummins-powered GILLIG Battery Electric Bus.

Cummins Office Building

Cummins Inc.

Cummins is a global power leader that designs, manufactures, sells and services diesel and alternative fuel engines from 2.8 to 95 liters, diesel and alternative-fueled electrical generator sets from 2.5 to 3,500 kW, as well as related components and technology. Cummins serves its customers through its network of 600 company-owned and independent distributor facilities and more than 7,200 dealer locations in over 190 countries and territories.

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