Motiv Power Systems announced it raised $7.3 million in growth capital from investors led by Magness Investment Group of Colorado. The funding comes as Kings Canyon (Calif.) Unified School District prepares to take receipt of its second Motiv-equipped, fully electric school bus in the next two weeks.
In February the district received its first Trans Tech SST-e bus, which transported students for several weeks before it went "on tour" to visit various industry events in northern California. Kings Canyon Unified is located in the San Joaquin Valley east of Foster City, where Motiv is based.
Motiv designs and builds an electric Powertrain Control System (ePCS) for commercial truck and bus builders who use it to create all-electric versions of vehicles, including school buses. It is unique in the industry as a single product suite that can electrify any truck or bus chassis with a variety of commercially available battery packs and motors, the company stated. The Motiv ePCS, battery packs and motor are installed to replace the engine and transmission of a new incomplete chassis in a ship-through modification.
Existing truck and bus builders who already use these incomplete chassis can build and sell electric versions of their existing truck and bus models. Trans Tech uses the Motiv ePCS installed on a Ford E450 chassis to power their electric school bus. Available with 80 or 100 miles of range, the SST-e bus can accommodate 25 students, or 18 students with a wheelchair lift and configurable track seating for up to three wheelchairs.
“We are impressed with how Motiv’s approach leverages the existing truck and bus builder ecosystem to achieve scalability,” said Gary Magness, manager of the Magness Investment Group. “I’m pleased to be a part of this revolution in trucking that brings environmental sustainability and significant fuel savings to an industry that’s the backbone of our economy."
“It’s an honor to have the support of an investor like Mr. Magness,” said Motiv CEO Jim Castelaz. “Not only does he see the potential in the market we are addressing, he understands our approach and believes in our vision of breaking the complete dependence trucks and buses currently have on fossil fuel.”
That has also been a long-term goal at Kings Canyon Unified, where former transportation director John Clements (pictured, at left, with cap on) introduced alternately powered vehicles to the school fleet decades ago. Now Clements acts as a Clean Air/Alt Fuels/School Bus Advocate and Consultant and often confers with the new director of transportation, Jason Flores (pictured, at left.
Flores told STN the second all-electric SST-e arrived at Motiv’s headquarters last week and its workers are putting the school district lettering on the side of the bus. He said he anticipates using both electric buses in the new school year starting on Aug. 18.
“I’m hoping both of them will be here for the new school year. We should be ready for the new school year with both buses and the Reefer truck, and the charging station will be hooked up too,” said Flores.
He noted that they received their first fully electric Reefer delivery truck, which will be used for school lunches. It is a Freightliner M-2 that has an all-electric cold storage box and a 100-mile range, so he has calculated that it will cost about $7.30 to run per day — much less than a diesel truck.
Flores added they are eagerly awaiting the charging station to be delivered by Electric Vehicles International (EVI) of Stockton so they can hook it up at the Transportation Department warehouse.
In addition, the department will soon take delivery of six new, fully loaded CNG buses thanks to funding from a CEMAC grant, the local Measure C sales tax, FHWA (Federal Highway Administration Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality funds) and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District’s Technology Advancement Program (TAP).
Once the new electric- and CNG-powered school buses arrive, this will bring his fleet up to 72. Roughly half run on CNG and the other half on diesel, along with five hybrids and, soon enough, two electric buses.