GE Debuts Dual Battery Electric Bus of the Future

Corporate fleets and delivery trucks are ripe for electrification. They often follow reliable routes and travel short distances, so they don't have to deal with range anxiety. But electric vehicle technology is expensive, and many companies ripe for an upgrade to EVs just don't have the cash.

Enter GE's "electric bus of the future", a dual battery system on a hybrid transit bus that cuts battery costs without sacrificing power and speed.

GE's dual battery system combines a a high-energy density sodium battery with a high-power lithium battery. Combined, the batteries offer plentiful energy storage and impressive acceleration--all while cutting the overall battery costs by 20% (two smaller batteries are cheaper than one big, powerful EV battery). Lembit Salasoo, principal investigator on the FTA Hybrid Transit Bus project, explains the project in a blog post:

A computerized energy management system splits up the vehicle’s power needs between the two batteries with GE’s proprietary technology. We believe our dual system could address the two principal challenges preventing the more widespread adoption of electric vehicles today--the size and cost of the battery. Unlike a single battery, you wouldn’t have to over-size your single battery to compensate for more storage or power. Additionally, the dual battery can incorporate less expensive battery chemistries into your battery system.

The technology could also be used in cars, but it's optimized for buses and trucks, which require more stored energy and higher acceleration rates than consumer vehicles.

Next up for the dual battery system: an installation on an advanced composites lightweight bus. After that comes commercialization--and more affordable electric buses and trucks for medium and small businesses.

 

Ariel Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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