Hybrid Fuel Cell Bus Launched in California

Coachella Valley based SunLine Transit Agency launched the first-ever hybrid fuel cell bus to be put into revenue service in the State of California at a ribbon cutting inauguration on Thursday, October 31.

Thousand Palms, California – November 4, 2002 [SolarAccess.com] Among celebrants attending the event was Congresswoman Mary Bono who drove the ThunderPower, LLC bus and is a long time proponent of advanced alternative fuel technologies. “Since coming to Congress I have made it a priority to make the Coachella Valley a world leader in clean air technology. By injecting over US$20 million in federal funds into SunLine, we have brought fuel cell technology out of the pages of Popular Science and into actual road service use. Our air quality is better for it and we are providing a crucial Homeland Security function by reducing U.S. reliance on foreign oil,” said Bono. ThunderPower is a joint venture between Thor Industries, based in Chino, California and ISE Research based in San Diego, California. One of the most advanced buses ever produced, the bus uses a fuel cell instead of an engine. The fuel cell runs on hydrogen from renewable sources (such as wind or solar power) and air to produce electricity to power the bus. The only emissions produced are water and air. The electricity produced by the fuel cell is routed to electric motors that turn the wheels through the differential. This is extremely efficient and quiet process. The bus also achieves 7 to 11 miles per gallon, which is double the mileage of a conventional bus.

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