Electric auto group tours bus plant

Staff Writer

Members of the Electric Auto Association of Northwest Ohio recently toured the Endera school bus assembly plant where Ford van chassis are “up-fitted” to all-electric shuttles.
Oregon resident Michael Hall, president of the association, said member organizations of the non-profit group Clean Fuels Ohio were invited to the Ottawa, Ohio plant which receives Ford E350 and E450 van chassis from Ford assembly lines without engines, transmissions, or drive shafts.
Called “gliders,” the unfinished vehicles are then fitted to an all-electric platform for commercial use as a shuttle van or school bus.
The first step in the process is to add extensions to the rear of the frame to accommodate various seating capacities of the bus.
Electrification is next with teams installing high and low voltage wiring, cooling systems, and hardware. Battery modules fit where the fuel tank, driveshaft, transmission and engine would have been located. Other electric vehicle components – inverters, converters, chargers – are mounted on a rack within the engine bay.
The remaining assembly involves installing the welded bus cage, then finishing the interior and exterior components to customer's specifications, Hall said. The vehicles get under-body rust proofing, and all finished vehicles go through a water test to verify they are leak-free.
To keep the vehicles as light as possible, exterior body panels are made of gel-coat fiberglass and lithium/manganese batteries are used.
John Walsh, chief executive officer of Endera, founded the company five years ago and currently operates a 250,000 –square- foot assembly plant in Pomona, California. Endera has an order for 1,000 EV buses to be built in the Ottawa facility.
Curren Clune, vice president of operations, said the company is working toward having all operations in-plant and expects to produce 25 hand-assembled units per month by late 2023.
The Electric Auto Association of Northwest Ohio hosts an annual event to inform the public about the changing technology and markets for the vehicles.


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