At times, we wonder who is reading over our shoulders. A discussion at Ecotality on Mike Strizki is followed a few days later by a Christian Science Monitor article. A discussion at Ecotality on plug-in hybrid school buses a little while ago and, well, the Christian Science Monitor publishes It’s a plug-in hybrid — and a school bus. Hmmm …
Well, first off, lets be honest. Others in the blogosphere have pointed to the same items. And, well, the CSM articles are worth reading — as most things are there. But, scoops are scoops, no ???
But, some items from the CSM article on plug-in hybrid school buses worth calling attention to:
Each of the first 19 buses costs over $200,000 – more than double the cost of a regular model. At that price, they won’t pay for themselves over their lives, even with superior fuel savings. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem because until about 1,000 buses roll off assembly lines, the cost of production will keep prices high.
Note the level of mass production that is required to make these cost effective … 1000 vehicles in some form of sustained production process.
Even after manufacturing efficiencies and competition bring the price down, plug-in hybrid school buses may still cost $40,000 more than a regular bus. But at that point, they will pay for themselves in just a few years with lower maintenance and fuel costs, analysts say.
Okay, the will cost more to “buy” but … note the payback period, a few years. They will cost far (FAR) less to own as decade-old busses are the norm, not the exception, for most school systems.
And, while these busses will use less fuel (see below), fuel savings are only part of the path toward reduced costs.
Ordinary yellow “type C” school buses get about 6 to 8 miles to the gallon. But the new plug-in hybrid models, rated at more than 12 m.p.g., could cut fuel consumption about in half in many districts. That could mean a big fuel savings for tight budgets.
If the nation could double its fleet miles, school savings could be significant. About 475,000 buses transport 25 million kids each day. Traveling more than 4 billion miles a year, those buses burn about 550 million gallons of fuel annually,
Nation-wide, this means that school buses burn a little more than 1/2 of a day’s oil use. The plug-in hybrids offer an opportunity to cut that in half. A path toward the equivalent of 5+ million barrels of oil production per year. Sounds like a great investment stream for me.