Midwest's first electric school bus debuts in Minnesota

- The Midwest’s first fully-electric school bus can be found in Minnesota. Lakeville, Minnesota, to be exact.

As part of Minnesota’s First-Of-Its-Kind program, this fall, students in the Lakeville school district will be riding to school on an all-electric school bus.

“An electric school bus just makes sense,” said David Ranallo, spokesman for Great River Energy, a partner in the project. “Just from an overall emissions standpoint.

The bus, named the eLion, may look like a regular diesel bus, but generates no carbon footprint, and runs 100 percent off of wind energy.

“No emissions, no diesel exhaust,” said Ranallo.

The average school bus route in the United States is 66 miles a day. Five re-chargeable batteries give the eLion about 100 miles-per-charge. The bus can recharge overnight when needed.

According to Ronallo, there are only about 100 electric school buses between the United States in Canada. Because of their use in Quebec, the companies pioneering this project are sure the bus will be successful in Minnesota’s cold climate.

Metro Transit in Minnesota was one of the first in the nation to bring hybrid, then hybrid-electric busses into their fleet. Though they have no fully electric city busses, according to Metro Transit's website, hybrid busses take up approximately 15 percent of their entire fleet.

Those involved in producing the eLion stand by the benefits of the bus. The electric bus will save the transportation company on operation, maintenance and fuel costs.

This bus represents a pilot project between Great River Energy, Dakota Electric Association and Schmitty and Sons transportation company. It was manufactured by a Canadian company, Lion Electric Co.

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