Transitioning a bus fleet from diesel to electric can be an overwhelming task in many ways. It can be nerve-racking working with vehicles’ high voltage components, and many new parts.
A knowledgeable and confident maintenance technician team is crucial. Therefore when transitioning to electric buses, it’s essential to bring the team up to speed with the new aspects, technical issues, and differences between electric buses and diesel buses.
Take a look below at some of the critical areas to understand as a maintenance technician for electric buses.
To begin with, the schematics are a map of all the wires on the vehicle. Diesel buses have schematics too. However, the electric bus schematics are usually much larger. They also involve many more parts than that of a diesel bus.
As an electric bus maintenance technician, it is important to have a basic understanding of how to read an electrical schematic.
💡Recommendation: Take a basic class about how to read an electrical schematic.
Multimeter Use and how to safely check a component
A Multimeter tool is a handheld device used to measure electric current, voltage, and resistance across a range of values. These tools are used to measure electrical continuity and voltage drops across a fuse, circuit breaker, or component. For that reason, the multimeter will help in deciding whether or not an item needs to be replaced. Most importantly, it is used to check there is no energy present before you touch or replace any electrical high or low voltage component.
💡Recommendation: Become familiar with this tool to keep you safe while performing a maintenance check on the electric bus. It will confirm there is no energy when checking a component on an electric vehicle. Above all, it shortens the amount of time spent troubleshooting. Here is an excellent article to teach you how to use a multimeter.
Learn the Basic components of an electric vehicle
It is vital to have an understanding of the basic components of an electric vehicle, including the charging components. Some of the main components that are new and different, thus important to understand include:
- Power train parts, including the traction motor and transmission
- The battery packs and battery monitoring system (BMS)
- Charging ports and/or overhead charging interfaces
The air system, brake system, and doors are generally all the same. Sometimes they vary slightly between electric and diesel models.
💡Recommendation: Learn the main basic components of an electric bus, especially those related to the powertrain, batteries, and charging. Check out the resources at the bottom of this article to get you started!
Common EV maintenance Issues and things that are the same
The main difference between EV maintenance and diesel maintenance is that EV maintenance involves more visual inspections and checks. Compared to diesel maintenance that includes parts and fluid replacement.
One of the most common maintenance activities for electric buses is battery checks. These checks are generally not invasive or time-consuming. Additionally, they are sometimes automated with diagnostic messages. Typically these checks happen at regular preventive maintenance intervals. They look at the humidity levels or past temperature information to see if there were any recent issues.
Another key activity is to look at critical high voltage connections. This check makes sure these connections are not damaged or corroded after use. It also ensures energy flows with no issues.
💡 Recommendation: compare a familiar diesel preventive maintenance schedule with an electric bus schedule. This helps in understanding the different activities and tools involved. Pay extra attention to any checks required for the battery packs.
⭐ Bonus Resources! ⭐
Here are a few other sites to learn more about electric vehicle maintenance. Take a look to find training programs for a new electric vehicle maintenance team:
The Clean Tech Institute is a leading research, consulting, and training organization in the clean & renewable energy industry.
The European Energy Centre is an Independent Educational Body for the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Sectors.