NREL is evaluating the drive-cycle characteristics of a fleet of propane-powered shuttle buses operating at Zion National Park, with a view to converting 14 of the aging propane buses to run on electricity.
To support the transition, NREL researchers are gathering operational data using onboard logging devices, in order to understand dispatching patterns, evaluate the effect of road grade on system requirements, and determine the optimal power and energy storage requirements.
NREL will process and analyze the data using specialized tools, including the Drive-Cycle Rapid Investigation, Visualization, and Evaluation (DRIVE) tool and the Future Automotive Systems Technology Simulator (FASTSim). The drive-cycle statistics gathered will be used by prospective retrofitters as NPS solicits bids for converting the buses to EVs.
“Each bus pulls a passenger trailer. The open-air nature of the bus/trailer setup, which accommodates 68 passengers, is popular among park visitors,” said NREL’s Robert Prohaska. “By working with NREL to make an informed, data-driven decision, NPS can transition to a new vehicle technology without sacrificing operational capacity or the positive visitor experience.”