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MCI charges ahead with electric luxury coach

Published by Winnipeg Free Press

Motor Coach Industries has officially launched its zero-emission version of the most popular highway bus in North America, the J-coach, three years after completing the prototype.

The J4500 Charge is a battery-electric version of the popular coach, with enhanced luxury and safety features and a range of 320 kilometres fully charged.

MCI, a subsidiary of NFI Group, the largest bus manufacturer in North America, is now taking orders for delivery in the fourth quarter of this year or early in 2022.

The J4500 Charge adds to the Winnipeg-based company’s growing portfolio of zero-emission and hybrid buses for both heavy duty transit and now highway motor coaches, and bolsters its position as the industry leader.

“NFI has pushed EV (electric vehicles) and automated innovation forward, and today we achieve another milestone in our technology road map through the launch of MCI’s first battery-electric luxury coach,” said Paul Soubry, president and CEO of NFI.

The J4500 Charge uses advanced technology including optimized battery placement for weight distribution and handling, heavy-duty torque and smooth operation as well as care and attention to the battery design including end-of-life recycling provisions.

The buses will be available with fully customizable interiors, 30 months warranty and extensive service support including 24/7 roadside assistance.

NFI Group’s experience in designing and operating battery-electric transit buses now includes an infrastructure solutions operations that can provide any level of support operators may need to install the charging equipment from consulting and training, all the way to total turnkey installations.

New Flyer, NFI Group’s transit bus division, has already been involved in the installation of more than 200 charging stations. Last year the company combined the operations of New Flyer and MCI, leveraging New Flyer’s infrastructure expertise for the benefit of MCI customers.

Chris Stoddart, president of NFI North America Bus and Coach, said that while the coach market “encountered its share of challenges last year,” the company “doubled down” on its commitment to provide “the most exceptional experience possible.”

NFI Group increasingly refers to itself as a leader in electric mass mobility solutions and late last month it calculated that its electric vehicles — including New Flyer’s Xcelsior Charge transit buses and Scottish-based Alexander Dennis’s electric double-decker buses — have now travelled more than 64 million kilometres of zero-emission work, which has meant the prevention of nearly 112,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. It is the equivalent of removing 23,000 cars from the road for one year.

The company’s reputation in this regard was burnished a bit more on Tuesday as Jennifer McNeill, NFI Group’s vice-president of public sector sales and marketing, was named one of 26 climate champions across Canada.

McNeill has been involved in zero-emission bus adoption in North America for nearly a decade. She spearheaded New Flyer’s support of smart city development through a four-pillar approach to mobility solutions that includes vehicles, technology, infrastructure, and workforce development. In 2020, she was named an honoree of Canada’s Clean50 list, recognizing Canada’s leaders advancing sustainability and clean capitalism, and was also named to the Clean16, for outstanding contribution to the clean energy economy in the manufacturing and transportation sector.

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