Motor Coach Industries (MCI), the U.S. subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc., announced that its all-electric J4500e prototype successfully completed phase one testing. The coach reportedly ran flawlessly at both low and high speeds up to a sustained 70 mph (113 km/h) on the highway. The all-electric J4500e coach is on schedule for January 2020 production, and orders are being taken now.

The electric architecture incorporated in the MCI J4500e features a high-torque Siemens 2130 LB FT electric drive system with a planned range to meet long-distance applications, nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) battery at 450 kW·h, with high-power plug-in battery charging to 100% in under three hours. MCI says it will also apply its battery-electric platform to the D45 CRT LE commuter coach, followed by the electric 35-ft (11-m) MCI J.

"We're enormously pleased by these early test results—our all-electric J4500e delivered smooth power across varied roadways and impressive results in acceleration, handling, and ride quality," said JP Pelletier, Vice President of MCI Engineering. He observed how the electric motor produces less interior cabin noise, increasing passenger comfort. The J4500e regenerative braking, designed to feel like the brakes on a clean-diesel coach, also performed as intended. "MCI has covered electric territory before with hybrid diesel-electric coaches built in early 2000s that are still in service, but with the all-electric platform, we're benefitting from New Flyer's long-time, battery-electric low-floor transit expertise."

Added MCI President Ian Smart, "We foresee our all-electric J4500e as the next frontier for MCI, with our MCI D45 CRT LE offering the same electric propulsion platform. Our customers will also have attractive electric charging options with MCI—they can work with us on standard depot charging, on-route systems, or a multi-charge design."

Smart explained that optional choices are productive because charging access still varies by community and route requirements. "Thanks to New Flyer's and MCI's complementary experience in electric, MCI is set to offer the most reliable, comfortable, efficient, and passenger-friendly electric coaches to private and public operators anywhere in North America. Our customers expect workhorse performance, and we will deliver it."

MCI will now move its all-electric J4500 test to Northern California, where the company says public and private operators are eyeing all-electric expansion for their key customers.