Motor Coach Industries on the road with battery-electric prototype


MCI J4500e reaches highway speed and reliability targets in test runs

Signals MCI’s leadership move into all-electric drawing on New Flyer expertise

Motor Coach Industries (MCI), the U.S. subsidiary of New Flyer Industries Inc. (“NFI Group”), the largest transit bus and motor coach manufacturer and parts distributor in North America MCI announced today that its all-electric J4500e prototype successfully completed its phase one testing. The coach ran flawlessly at both low and high speeds up to a sustained 70 mph on the highway.

It means that MCI, which pioneered green fuel solutions with early entries in CNG and diesel-electric more than a decade ago, will add North America’s best-selling motor coach to its list of environmental breakthroughs. 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 kWh with high power plug-in battery charging to 100% in under three hours. MCI will also apply its battery-electric platform to the D45 CRT LE Commuter Coach followed by the electric 35-foot MCI J giving operators the most comprehensive choices in purpose-built, all-electric coaches.

“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 lessens interior cabin noise, increasing passenger comfort. The J4500e regenerative braking, specifically designed to feel like the brakes on a clean-diesel coach, also performed as intended. “MCI has covered electric territory before with hyrbid 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,” said Mr. Pelletier.

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.”

Mr. 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,” said Mr. Smart.

The next stage

MCI will now move its all-electric J4500 test to Northern California, where public and private operators are eyeing all-electric expansion for their key customers. Major Silicon Valley technology employers are

expanding their own private coach shuttle systems attractive to millennial workforces. Success in this market requires a deep understanding of how employer operators will be using these coaches.

Said Patrick Scully, MCI Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing: “The time-tested reliability of the J4500 coach matched to an all-electric powertrain and charging methods adopted from New Flyer battery electric Xcelsior Charge is a powerful benefit– we’re able to closely collaborate with customers to provide the optimal electric propulsion and charging solution based on their exact usage and scheduling needs.”

Next-generation comfort and amenities in a greener package

Expect the reliable, all-electric MCI J4500 to have styling and comfort features to match. The J4500 coach leads in curb appeal inside and out. From best-in-class legroom and slim-styled seating options to Wi-Fi and easy-access power outlets and overhead lighting, MCI makes distance travel both productive and relaxing.

The D45 CRT LE also stands as the industry’s most accessible coach ever, featuring a mid-door and patent-pending low entry vestibule with seating that speeds boarding for all passengers, including those with mobility devices.

Service and support to match throughout North America

The support grid for MCI’s all-electric product line includes more than 24 field support experts; seven MCI Sales and Service Centers across the U.S. and Canada; the MCI Academy – the company’s expanding online and hands-on technical training department; and NFI Parts, where operators have access to MCI and New Flyer OE parts along with parts for most other makes and models.

“The electric future at MCI is in line with our over all objectives of building low cost of operation and easy to service models,” said Mr. Smart. “MCI’s proven coaches combined with New Flyer’s battery-electric Xcelsior Charge expertise will pave the way for vehicle reliability, and help our customers make a smooth transition to electric.”

Where to learn more

As MCI’s all-electric J4500e makes its way around North American test sites over the next few months, MCI and New Flyer invites operators to consider a visit to Anniston, Alabama, home to the new Vehicle Innovation Center (VIC).

The VIC is the first-of-its-kind innovation lab dedicated to the exploration and development of future motor coach and transit bus technology, along with electric drive trains and power supply systems that are available now for demonstration and display. If you’re considering a visit to the VIC, let MCI help by contacting an MCI sales representative.