St George News: Addition of 2 zero-emission shuttle vans helps advance park, EVZion goal of ‘smart mobility solutions’

St George News Article

ST. GEORGE — Visitors to Zion National Park are riding in style after two Lightning ZEV3 Class 3 passenger vans were added to the shuttle fleet Tuesday.

The deployment of these zero-emission vehicles will augment the goals of the Utah Clean Cities East Zion pilot shuttle program.

“The public-private initiative is a landmark demonstration of how industry, federal and local agencies can come together to demonstrate smart mobility solutions that increase regional resiliency and connectivity,” said a news release from

As part of a pilot program that began in 2019, EVZion has “developed a zero-emission, electric vehicle shuttle system to demonstrate the efficiency of electric vehicle transportation in rural gateway communities,” the news release said.

This high-tech, electric shuttle pilot and demonstration project involves national laboratory data collection, industry partner road testing in extreme climate fluctuations and local community leadership, according to the EVZion website.

“The opportunity to work with the Utah Clean Cities team and our partners to demonstrate the viability and scalability of all-electric, zero-emission passenger systems aligns perfectly with our mission and vision,” Nick Bettis, vice president of marketing and sales operations at Lightning eMotors, said in the news release. “As the only electrified vehicle provider actively delivering customized, fully electric Class 3 shuttles and a robust range of charging solutions, Lightning eMotors is excited to be part of the EVZion project.”

The vans were customized with rear-facing cameras to allow the side mirrors to be folded so that the vans can pass each other in the Mt. Carmel Tunnel. In conjunction with the deployment of the two vans, Lightning is demonstrating Lightning Mobile, which provides DC fast charging in a trailer format. This technology is especially valuable for charging EVs in locations that may be remote from the grid.

“The historic Mt. Carmel Tunnel, an iconic landmark since its inauguration on July 4, 1930, has long struggled with accommodating oversized vehicles and maintaining a safe traffic flow,” said Tammie Bostick, Utah Clean Cities executive director and project lead of the EVZion project. “By adopting these shuttles, tailored to the tunnel’s dimensions, we’re taking an active step towards ensuring a two-way traffic flow that eliminates the frustrating hours and miles of backed-up vehicles.

“This approach not only respects the park’s history but also paves the way for a more enjoyable and secure experience for all visitors.”

Lightning’s ZEV3 passenger vans have a long track record of operating in public and private transit and on-demand microtransit contexts across the county, the news release said.

The EVZion ribbon-cutting follows a recent announcement by Teton Village, Wyoming, about the acquisition of Lightning eMotors vehicles to replace the diesel buses that serve nearly half a million people in and around Teton Village resort.

Following are Zion National Park shuttle service reminders from the park service:

  • You do not need a ticket or reservation to ride the park shuttle or enter the park.
  • During the shuttle season, visitors cannot drive personal vehicles on Zion Canyon Scenic Drive.
  • Later in 2023, the park will share information about shuttle operations in December.
  • Shuttles arrive about every 15 minutes on the Springdale Line (outside the park) and about every 5-10 minutes on the Zion Canyon Line (inside the park).

Tech Question of the Week: What are the main variables impacting the total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis for electric and compressed natural gas (CNG) school and transit buses?

First, it’s important to note that a TCO analysis will depend on several factors, which can vary based on region or site. In addition to the upfront vehicle purchase cost, a major factor impacting school and transit bus TCO is the upfront cost of procuring and installing infrastructure, and the cost of daily fueling. Please see below for a high-level overview of the cost inputs to consider, a broad discussion of some major cost factors, and resources for additional cost data.

TCO Inputs

Argonne National Laboratory’s (ANL) Alternative Fuel Life-Cycle Environmental and Economic Transportation (AFLEET) Tool ( is our go-to tool for analyzing the TCO of alternative fuel vehicles, including school and transit buses. Please note, there have been recent updates to AFLEET this year.

It may be helpful to review and adjust the default values in the Inputs tab of the AFLEET spreadsheet tool for an idea of the various factors that impact a TCO analysis. In no particular order, a high-level overview of key inputs used in AFLEET’s TCO analysis are listed below:

  • Location
  • Vehicle Purchase Price
  • Number of Vehicles Purchased
  • Years of Planned Ownership
  • Annual Vehicle Mileage
  • Fuel Economy
  • Maintenance & Repair
  • Fuel Price
  • Fueling Infrastructure
  • Financing Options

Many of the key infrastructure procurement and installation costs and daily fueling inputs will vary based on the region or site. For example, daily fueling in extreme-temperature operations (i.e., temperatures that require air conditioning or heating) will vary for buses, lowering fuel economy and increasing average fueling costs. Please see below for some additional cost variables based on the bus fuel type.

Upfront Infrastructure Costs and Daily Fueling

Battery Electric Bus (BEB)

Infrastructure costs for electric buses can differ significantly based on the type of charger and site. Any utility or facility upgrades to accommodate charging infrastructure needs will impact the overall project costs, especially depending on the scale of the transition that the fleet is considering. The cost of adding a few electric buses and chargers to the fleet looks a lot different than a full fleet transition and the accompanying upgrades. However, a longer transition timeline gives more time for capital costs to decrease as the technologies mature and potential supply chain issues are resolved.

For reference, you may want to refer to a 2020 report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Financial Analysis of Battery Electric Transit Buses, which discusses parameters to prioritize when considering an electric bus investment ( In particular, see Table 5 on page 27.

The electricity fueling cost for BEBs is location dependent. You may refer to the U.S. Energy Information Administration State Electricity Profile page ( for a snapshot of electricity prices in your state. While not captured in AFLEET, fueling costs will vary further depending on electric utility rate structure offerings such as a time-of-use (TOU) rate that allows fleets to avoid any high demand charges. Ultimately, charging off-peak with a TOU rate will lower the TCO for electric buses.

 CNG Bus

The cost of installing CNG infrastructure is influenced by station size, capacity, and the way the CNG is dispensed (i.e., fast-fill or time-fill). You may refer to an NREL report, Costs Associated with Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Fueling Infrastructure ( for an overview of factors to consider in the implementation of fueling stations and equipment. In particular, please refer to PDF page 11 and 12 for example applications and station sizes, and relative cost ranges.

It may be worthwhile to consider fuel price volatility of CNG when determining CNG fueling costs for TCO. For example, based on the Clean Cities Alternative Fuel Price Reports, the retail price of CNG on a gasoline gallon equivalent basis has gone up nearly 50% between January 2021 and January 2023 ( That said, fleets may have the ability to purchase CNG at lower and less variable rates than retail customers. As such, we recommend working with your local CNG provider to determine your specific fuel price contract costs for your needs.

Vehicle Cost Resources

Beyond default AFLEET values, you may be interested in the following resources for electric and CNG bus cost data. Please note that we aren’t aware of many recent publicly available resources on CNG bus costs. Additionally, it’s possible that more electric and CNG bus cost data will become available as a result of some of the federal incentive programs that have received funding under the Inflation Reduction Act (e.g., Clean School Bus and Low or No Emission Grant (Low No) Program):

Tech Question of the Week: What is the overview of hydrogen associations, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the current landscape?

what is the overview of hydrogen associations, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and the current landscape?

Hydrogen Associations

Please see below for information regarding national hydrogen associations in the United States.

  • Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) – “FCHEA is the leading industry association in the United States representing more than ninety leading organizations advancing production, distribution, and use of innovative, clean, safe, and reliable hydrogen energy. FCHEA is also focused on educating the public and key opinion and policy leaders on the economic and environmental benefits of fuel cell and hydrogen technologies.”
    • FCHEA’s Transportation page provides a general overview of commercially available FCEV models including light- to heavy-duty vehicles, off-road material handling vehicles, aviation, rail, and marine transportation.
  • Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership (HFCP) – The HFCP is a national organization aimed at expanding the market for FCEVs powered by hydrogen. HFCP believes that educating the public about the benefits of electrification of transportation related to hydrogen and fuel cell technology and the accelerated development of such technologies is a critical step to addressing current energy, economic, and environmental challenges.
    • The HFCP Station Map provides daily the operational status for California hydrogen fueling stations.
    • The HFCP resource library is a hub for the latest hydrogen transportation news and reports.

FCEV OEMs, Availability, and Demand

As consumer and fleet interest grows, major OEMs have begun actively developing and producing FCEVs, although they are currently only available in select markets with available hydrogen fueling infrastructure such as California. Please refer to the Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) Vehicles Search Tool for information on commercially available hydrogen FCEVs. You may search by vehicle type (e.g., light-duty vehicles) and by fuel (e.g., hydrogen fuel cell) to view a list of models and OEMs. Please see below for a list of current OEMs and commercially available vehicle class models and check back for updates.

Light Duty

  • Toyota – Mirai (Sedan)
  • Hyundai – Nexo (SUV)
  • Honda – Clarity (SUV)
    • Please note, Honda has discontinued the Clarity. That said, Model Year 2021 is still available for lease, Clarity-owners are still supported, and a new FCEV model will be release in 2024.

Medium Duty and Heavy Duty (HD)

In addition, General Motors, Mercedes/Daimler, Ford, and BMW have all committed to putting FCEVs on the road in the near future. Manufacturers are also tapping into the potential for FCEVs in medium- and HD applications, where hydrogen’s high energy density and fast-fueling capability show promise. FCEVs are currently available for fleet applications including transit buses, shuttle buses, and street sweepers. Some manufacturers have also begun developing Class 8 trucks powered by hydrogen, providing another emerging market for hydrogen fuel cells.

Recently, retail and logistics providers like Amazon and Walmart have committed to adopting FCEVs for transportation needs, from forklifts in warehouses to long-haul trucking. Transit agencies across the country are also committing to purchasing hydrogen transit buses, including Pennsylvania’s SEPTA and California’s Gold Coast Transit District.

State of the Market

For information on the international hydrogen market, you may refer to the International Energy Agency’s Global Hydrogen Review 2022, Transport, PDF page 39. Regarding transportation, this report states that the hydrogen demand for road transport, especially as HD trucks are deployed, has increased by 60% from 2021. The number of HD FCEVs and commercial vehicles (e.g., vans, trucks) have also increased significantly. Per the graph on PDF page 42, FCEVs Stock by Segment and Region, the United States is one of the leaders of FCEV deployment.

For information on the domestic hydrogen market, please refer to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hydrogen Program Update: 2022 AMR Plenary Session presentation for a snapshot of hydrogen production and FCEVs in the United States (slide 5), and DOE’s national hydrogen strategy. Currently, hydrogen is an essential feedstock in established industries, such as the petrochemical sector. DOE has identified hydrogen as a fuel that can be utilized in hard to decarbonize sectors such as HD transport and energy storage.

For more information on fuel cell technologies and market status, please refer to DOE’s latest report, the 2019 Fuel Cell Technologies Market Report. Further, you may refer to FCHEA’s Road Map to a US Hydrogen Economy for the industry’s take on how the hydrogen market can expand in the United States. FCHEA developed this report with input from 20 hydrogen related companies and organizations, including fuel producers, OEMs, and fueling station developers.

Production and Distribution

Most hydrogen used in the United States is produced at or close to where it is used—typically at large industrial sites. Although hydrogen infrastructure is commercially available, wide-scale growth of hydrogen demand as a transportation fuel will require advancements of delivery technologies to address key challenges including reducing cost, increasing energy efficiency, maintaining hydrogen purity, and minimizing leakage. Hydrogen contains less energy per unit volume than all other fuels; because of this, transporting, storing, and delivering hydrogen to point of end-use is more expensive on a per gallon equivalent basis. Further, delivery infrastructure needs and resources will vary by region, hydrogen market, and demand growth. However, because hydrogen can be produced from a diverse array of resources, regional hydrogen production can maximize local resources and minimize distribution challenges.

Please refer to the following resources for information on hydrogen production and distribution:

DOE established H2@Scale to advance affordable hydrogen production, transport, storage, and utilization to decarbonize the U.S. economy. This initiative includes DOE funded projects and national laboratory-industry co-funded activities to accelerate early-stage research, development, and demonstration of applicable hydrogen technologies in transport and other hard-to-decarbonize sectors. In addition, the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program, H2Hubs, ( a program funded through BIL, will create networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier, including as a transportation fuel. H2Hubs includes up to $7 billion to establish 6 to 10 regional clean hydrogen production hubs across the United States.

Fueling Stations

Please refer to the AFDC Alternative Fueling Station Locator for information on hydrogen fueling station in the United Stated and Canada. As of 2022, there are more than 56 public fueling stations located in California and Hawaii. Most retail hydrogen stations are co-located at existing gasoline stations.

Per the California Energy Commission (CEC) and California Air and Resource Board (CARB) 2021 Annual Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California PDF page 27, hydrogen at public stations is selling for about $12–$16 per kilogram (kg). In addition, CEC and CARB have determined that stations will need to dispense at roughly $8 per kilogram to be on par with gasoline prices, $3.20 per gallon equivalent.

Per the California Air Resource Board (CARB) 2022 Annual Evaluation of FCEV Deployment and Hydrogen Fuel Station Network Development, California is leading the nation by funding the effort to build retail hydrogen fueling stations. With careful planning, the focus has been to add hydrogen fuel at existing gasoline stations covering regions in northern California near San Francisco and southern California near Los Angeles. In addition to continuing the necessary network developments in established markets, there is a significant market opportunity to prioritize development in underserved, disadvantaged communities across California, especially the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Desert region. Work is also under way to expand hydrogen fueling locations in Hawaii and across the East coast, with other markets expected to develop to encourage consumer demand of FCEVs. In summary, CARB considers these development efforts to give early FCEV adopters confidence so that they can drive normally and have access to hydrogen wherever they go within these regions.

In addition to public stations, there are private stations supporting fleets, with some used for demonstration or research. Mobile hydrogen fuelers, where liquefied or compressed hydrogen and dispensing equipment is stored onboard a trailer, have been deployed to support the expansion of hydrogen infrastructure. As hydrogen fueling station capacity increases, automakers have the opportunity to accelerate FCEV deployment in established and emerging markets.

According to an International Council on Clean Transportation report, Developing Hydrogen Fueling Infrastructure for Fuel Cell Vehicles: A Status Update PDF page 17, initial hydrogen stations were built at about $2 million to $3 million per station. Most government and industry consortium estimates suggest that the average cost will drop over time, costing closer to $1 million per station and eventually lower yet. In 2020, DOE estimated the cost to be closer to $1.9 million and dropping (PDF page 2).

The availability of stations providing reasonably priced hydrogen in places where vehicles will be deployed remains a key challenge to the adoption of this technology. To address this, transportation stakeholders have set goals to expand hydrogen fueling station network. In addition, several federal incentives include funding for hydrogen fueling infrastructure development and purchasing FCEVs.