Here is an electric vehicle manufacturer you may not have heard of, but in Taiwan, RAC Electric Vehicles (RAC EV) is making a name for themselves when it comes to electric propulsion technology and the manufacturing of electric transit buses and trucks. However, their bus is the only mainstream product that is currently on sale. Their trucks and cargo vans are still being tested and will go on sale next year. Built in limited numbers, these buses are somewhat rare on the streets in cities across the island. The primary operators of the 40 foot RACE 150 EV bus includes Taipei Bus (台北客運), Hsinchu Bus (新竹客運), and South Taiwan Bus (南台灣). Kaohsiung Bus also operates six 2012 Race EVs on their freeway express runs. In Taichung (全航) Chuan Hang Bus operates the buses for the BRT.
A 2012 Kaohsiung Bus RACE 150 EV 40 foot bus outside the Zuoying HSR station.
The RAC RACE 150 uses yttrium lithium Batteries, which help give it a range of 215-245 miles (>350km) depending on driving conditions. The use of the brakes help regenerate power and thus may increase the range. This range is more than enough for a days run. However, if the need comes to charge the bus, there are two options, one is quick charging it in two hours or overnight charging in seven hours.
South Taiwan Bus operates ten RACE 150 EVs and they are used through out the day on the #30 route only. This route has headways every 15 minutes and the route takes an hour and a half to do from start to finish, so the route also is covered Hino RK8JRSAs to help supplement the electric buses.
I asked the driver about his thoughts of the South Taiwan Bus (南台灣) EV bus during his break at the main train station. He had mostly positive things to say about the EV, such as quick acceleration with all the power available from the start. This is helpful when stopping to pick up and unloading passengers and then keeping up with the flow of traffic. Also, the ride is much more smoother and there is no need to change gears (most buses in Taiwan are manuals). The driver did like that this bus didn’t rattle and vibrate as much like a diesel bus. He said the transit company ought to buy more, which I agree. The only negative is the days he has to drive a diesel bus instead. There is no better way to go green!
South Taiwan Bus 2014 150 electric bus #185 ride along the #30 route from Houyi MRT station to Kaohsiung main train station. Hear the smooth electric motor run!