Little Vancouver bus company makes it big in U.S.

GreenPower Motor Company lands $US9.5-million contract to supply electric buses to California

GreenPower 12-metre EV350 zero-emission all-electric bus

GreenPower Motor Company lands $US9.5-million contract to supply electric buses to California

The City of Porterville in California is purchasing 10 zero-emission electric transit buses from Vancouver-based GreenPower Motor Company, which will also install the charging infrastructure, including 11 charging stations. Porterville is a test site for an all-electric transit bus system, replacing the city’s current compressed natural gas buses. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) and San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District awarded Porterville US$9.5 million in grants to fund the project.

The buses will be built in Porterville in compliance with Buy America, a program of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which lets U.S.-based transit agencies that receive federal funding to benefit from certain tax breaks and incentives. GreenPower is building a 150,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and offices on a 9.3-acre property purchased for US$660,000 last May near the Porterville airport. The Porterville plant will also allow GreenPower to pursue additional market opportunities in California.

GreenPower was founded in 2011 by B.C. resident Phillip Oldridge, who has spent more than 30 years in the transportation industry, primarily as an operator and manufacturer of private buses. He founded several previous companies, including Nevada Charters, which was acquired by Stagecoach Holdings in the U.K.

After the company considered various types of alternative fuel vehicles during the first year of operation, Oldridge recommended focusing on the electrification of heavy-duty transportation equipment, says GreenPower chairman Fraser Atkinson. GreenPower narrowed its focus further to all-electric buses, bringing its first product, the 12-metre EV350, onto the market in the summer of 2014.

It now has three designs: a low-floor public-transit-style bus; a high-floor design that can be used for school buses or traditional coaches intended for community or shuttle operations; and the first true purpose-built all-electric double decker ever brought to the market anywhere in the world.

B.C.’s Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has leased a double decker to try out as a shuttle bus, and GreenPower has almost completed building a double decker for EV Power in Las Vegas and will also supply a charging station. “The interest in Vegas is that right now they already operate about 100 double deckers on the strip,” says Atkinson. “MGM Resorts along with several of the other major casino operators in Las Vegas are all looking at electrifying their fleets.”

GreenPower is also building two school buses for Adomani, a green transportation company in California, and has nine letters of intent from nine school districts in Southern California for a total of 25 buses. Twin Transit in Washington State has ordered an EV250 nine-metre transit bus and a charging station, and GreenPower may be able to provide more EV350 buses to Porterville if the city wants to expand its fleet.