‘Charge On America’ Cross Country Motorcoach Tour Records History

A double-deck Van Hool TDX25E motorcoach is being driven from California to Florida, as part of the ABC Companies’ “Charge on America” Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour.

The ABC Companies’ “Charge on America” Zero Emissions Cross Country Tour, involving a battery electric double-deck Van Hool TDX25E motorcoach, continues with James Wang, of Peoria Charter, at the helm. Wang, with his YouTube channel Motorcoach World, has been documenting the various ups and downs of taking an electric motorcoach from California to Florida. He has been joined by fellow Peoria Charter representative Dennis Utley and their families.

The tour is designed to demonstrate the viability of battery electric motorcoaches, gain customer feedback and understand current electric charging infrastructure challenges.

“After seeing how James and his Motorcoach World channel objectively educates the industry on various technologies, motorcoaches, and trends, I knew he was the man for the job,” ABC Companies CEO Roman Cornell said. “He is not afraid to provide an authentic review and he will share the good, the bad and even the ugly, but always in an objective way, through the lens of a motorcoach operator. With electric Van Hool motorcoaches making up over 20% of our total deliveries by the end of this year, we need people like James to provide the facts about what these EVs can, and just importantly, cannot do in operation.

“Our zero-emissions vehicles can be game changers in the right applications, however, the versatility and reliability of our clean-diesel Van Hool motorcoaches, along with their range based on their exceptional fuel efficiency, means they will continue to be the workhorses for most of our motorcoach customers who need to cover long distances between extended stops. But this trip is about more than the vehicles, it is about raising awareness for desperately needed public charging infrastructure that can handle a 45’ motorcoach, as well as other medium to heavy commercial vehicles. With so much federal funding earmarked for infrastructure designed to accelerate use of EVs, we have become acutely aware that there is not nearly enough awareness or focus on large commercial vehicles that will have to rely on publicly available charging. The vehicles are there, but the infrastructure is not. James, and his Motorcoach World YouTube channel, along with our continued efforts through the ABC Companies’ Zero Emissions Tour, will help amplify this need.”

In July, ABC Companies officially opened its electric motorcoach charging facility in Newark, CA, billed as the largest such facility in North America, during a ceremony. Located on a 3.5-acre campus, the facility is equipped to charge up to 40 electric motorcoaches with 20 dual-cable EV charging dispensers and can support up to 1.4 megawatts of EV charging power. The facility enables enhanced service, delivery, training, and support for the growing number of Proterra Powered Van Hool 100% electric motorcoaches, according to ABC Companies.

Developed in collaboration with EV charging and battery partner, Proterra, and local utility provider, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), the ABC Companies’ charging facility demonstrates that both power and charging solutions are now available to meet fleet operators’ needs to scale their commercial EV operations.

Speakers at the ceremony included ABC Companies Vice President of Marketing Thom Peebles; Proterra Energy Vice President Brendan Harney; PG&E Manager, Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Programs Laura Espinoza; and Newark Mayor Mike Hannon.

“The beautiful thing about motorcoaches, is that even before electrification was an option, each coach could take on average 40 to 50 personal vehicles off the road. That not only relieves traffic congestion but reduces emissions,” Peebles said. “Now, with this facility, we have gone beyond just reducing emissions to eliminating them. We feel the facility is not only a demonstration of forward-thinking but shows the power of partnerships.”

Harney said the new charging facility serves as a positive model for the entire transportation industry; an illustration of what can be done.

“The scale demonstrated here is incredible when it comes to charging 40 electric motorcoaches. That translates into possibly taking 2,000 to 2,500 vehicles off the road each day. It’s commendable and something that should make everyone here proud,” Harney said. “Electric vehicles, in general, offer a viable pathway to a cleaner future, and the development of large-scale electric bus fleets is key to widespread adoption. It’s our hope that the success of this collaboration serves as an inspiration to others.”

Espinoza noted the work and dedication involved among many parties to get the charging facility in place.

“This type of project is truly pivotal to advancing electrification. Each of these electric buses represent an opportunity to educate customers/passengers, and to take a big step in meeting electrification goals,” she said.

As mayor of Newark, a city of approximately 47,529 residents located on the southeastern side of San Francisco Bay, Hannon applauded the major investment made to allow the charging facility to become a reality.

“The importance of this project cannot be overstated as we all work together to address the formidable threat of climate change,” he said. “Our collective future depends on the hard work and innovation that has been demonstrated by this project.”

Those in attendance at the opening ceremony were also given a ride around Newark in a battery electric double-deck Van Hool TDX25E motorcoach, demonstrating the quiet and smooth ride such a vehicle provides. A week later, the cross country tour began.

The Van Hool TDX25E tour vehicle is equipped with Starlink to deliver broadband internet capable of supporting the streaming planned for the “Charge on America” cross country tour. The installation of the Starlink system is part of the current field testing being conducted by ABC Companies. As with all new technologies, including solar panels and other technology-based solutions, ABC Companies’ Technical Solutions team will accumulate data to optimize for use in commercial passenger applications.

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