Environmental Performance Vehicles

Environmental Performance Vehicles (EPV), previously DesignLine Corporation, is a manufacturer of coach, electric and range-extended electric (hybrid) buses founded in Ashburton, New Zealand in 1985. Initially it was a manufacturer of tour coaches. In the 1990s it diversified into conventional transit buses and then added hybrid city buses in the late 1990s. It was acquired by American interests in 2006, and DesignLine Corporation's headquarters was relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina. Following a bankruptcy in 2013, the assets of DesignLine were sold and the company was renamed.

Environmental Performance Vehicles
IndustryBus manufacturing
  • 1985 (as DesignLine)
  • 2014 (EPV Corp.)
  • John Turton (as DesignLine)
  • Tony Luo (EPV Corp.)
United States
Area served
North America
OwnerWonderland Investment Group

EPV is no longer affiliated with the DesignLine operations in New Zealand, which was placed in liquidation in 2011[1] and then sold to a Malaysian-controlled joint business venture who operate it under the name DesignLine Bus Pacific,[2] which was renamed Global Bus Ventures (NZ) on 30 May 2016.[3]


As DesignLine, it filed for protection under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on August 15, 2013. The case was subsequently transferred to North Carolina. They employed over 250 people in the city of Charlotte.[4]

Katie Goodman, Managing Partner of GGG Partners, LLC was retained as Chief Restructuring Officer of the corporation just prior to the filing.

On October 28, 2013, Wonderland Investment Group Inc. acquired most of the assets of DesignLine in an auction. Several key issues of the bankruptcy - including a class action suit for wrongful termination by DesignLine employees and the potential termination of a contract with the Denver Regional Transportation District - are set to be decided on January 14, 2014.[5] Wonderland renamed the company EPV in January 2014.

Hybrid vehicleEdit

One key component of the EPV fleet is its range-extended electric bus (hybrid), the EcoSaver. The bus is a plug-in battery powered electric vehicle. As battery power is depleted, an on-board diesel or compressed natural gas (CNG) turbine engine engages. Unlike other hybrid buses, the on-board engine does not run vehicle systems as the battery depletes. Rather the turbine produces electricity that recharges the batteries. The turbines are supplied by Capstone Turbine of Chatsworth, California. This vehicle was first used from December 1998 in Christchurch, New Zealand, branded as The Shuttle.[6]

The bus was originally designed as a response to the international tender for ecological buses to be used in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. While the design was rated as technically best[citation needed] it did not win the tender. This first-of-its-kind technology has been deployed in a number of fleets as the process has been tested and improved. Recent testing at the Bus Testing and Research Center at Penn State University show a substantial improvement in fuel economy over traditional buses. The EcoSaver will also be included as part of a national research effort coordinated by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) to yield performance data on clean fuel vehicles.

Numerous demonstration fleets of EcoSaver vehicles have been deployed worldwide since 1998. The DesignLine electric drive system has undergone several major development cycles, with the fourth generation North American system now in production.

Electric vehicleEdit

DesignLine's EcoSmart is an all-electric bus powered by sodium batteries, and based on the established EcoSaver drive train system. The bus is 100% emissions free. The bus plugs in to recharge, and captures energy from regenerative braking technology. The bus does not need proprietary charging infrastructure. Simple industrial grade electrical access is all that is required. The buses can travel more than 100 miles between charges.

The EcoSmart is in service internationally in Australia and Abu Dhabi UAE. The Société de Transport de Laval in Quebec, Canada is currently testing the EcoSmart for use in its fleet.

Coach vehicleEdit

DesignLine's EcoCoach is a high floor, single door bus powered by either compressed natural gas (CNG) or diesel fuel. The bus is built on a lightweight frame that lowers overall vehicle weight and improves fuel economy. The bus is designed for long routes with infrequent stops, such as intercity routes, or limited access transit routes (i.e. Park and Ride). DesignLine had a contract with New Jersey Transit to supply the agency with 76 EcoCoach buses by May 2013.

The EcoCoach is also the first 45-foot CNG coach to complete testing at the Altoona Bus Testing and Research Center.


DesignLine markets the following buses:

Model Photo Features
DesignLine Electric Bus
  • The EcoSmart bus produces no emissions, operates for a full shift without direct recharging and captures energy traditionally lost during braking, returning it to the batteries.
  • No proprietary charging infrastructure is required.
  • EcoSmart can be produced in 30, 35 and 42 foot versions.
  • All accessories are electrically driven, reducing energy losses and increasing reliability.
DesignLine REEV bus
  • The EcoSaver uses the electric vehicle drive system with additional range capabilities provided by a unique-in-class, on-board micro-turbine generator. The 65 kW micro-turbine allows for battery recharge as energy cells are depleted during the shift. This results in the ability to sustain battery operation continuously.
  • It successfully completed third party "shaker table" testing with only minor issues evident after 500,000 simulated miles.
  • Unlike some hybrid bus systems that include an internal combustion engine that rely on conventional operation as battery capacity is depleted, the on-board turbine simply recharges the batteries, making all systems on the EcoSaver all electric at all times.
  • The micro-turbine is powered by CNG or diesel (and requires no Urea, after treatment, or expensive exhaust system).
  • The bus has no engine, no transmission, or engine oil which results in less maintenance and reduced cost of operation. The micro-turbine has only a single moving part.
  • The EcoSaver is CARB 2010 compliant and meets 2014 CARB emissions levels.
DesignLine EcoCoach bus
  • The DesignLine coach is a high floor, single door bus powered by either compressed natural gas (CNG) or diesel fuel.
  • The frame is an innovative design using a stainless steel chassis and aluminum body that reduces overall vehicle weight and adds to improved fuel efficiency.
  • It features cutting-edge cooling technology from EMP that allows for superior performance with less maintenance and less power usage, thereby improving fuel efficiency.
  • The bus is Altoona tested (45 foot CNG version)


Currently, Designline/EPV buses are used in revenue service in five countries worldwide.[7]

United StatesEdit

Current operators

  • New Jersey Transit on the 63, 64, 67, and 68 lines between Toms River, Lakewood, Freehold, Old Bridge, and Newark/Jersey City/Hoboken. Current fleet is retired due to Designline bankruptcy.
  • RTD, Denver, CO - RTD currently operates two EcoSaver IV vehicles modified for the 16th Street Mall shuttle. An order for additional buses was cancelled due to the bankruptcy of DesignLine.[8]


New ZealandEdit


Other countriesEdit

  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Newcastle-upon-Tyne, United Kingdom
    • Stagecoach - one Olymbus diesel-electric bus was evaluated in 2004, this bus became one of ten Olymbus buses for QuayLink bus service in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Gateshead and they were operated from 22 July 2005 until being replaced by Optare Versa from 10 August 2010. This was due to difficulty coping with hills on the route.[9]


  1. ^ Steeman, Marta (1 June 2011). "DesignLine liquidation costs jobs". stuff.co.nz. Retrieved 13 June 2011.
  2. ^ STEEMAN, MARTA (23 August 2011). "Malaysians take stake in bus joint venture". BusinessDay.co.nz. Fairfax New Zealand. Retrieved 23 August 2011.
  3. ^ http://www.companiesoffice.govt.nz/companies/app/ui/pages/companies/3439013/22849341/entityFilingRequirement - Companies Office, New Zealand
  4. ^ "Hybrid, electric bus maker files for bankruptcy". USA Today. 17 August 2013.
  5. ^ "Workers' suit, contract dispute drive DesignLine court hearings on Tuesday".
  6. ^ Hamilton, Jennie (Autumn 1999). "User-friendly Shuttle Buses A Winner". Our Environment. Christchurch: Christchurch City Council (18). Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Ride A DesignLine - DesignLine Corporation". Archived from the original on 2010-01-29. Retrieved 2010-07-21.
  8. ^ Whaley, Monte (22 January 2013). "RTD Approves New Shuttle Buses for 16th Street Mall". denverpost.com. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
  9. ^ [1]

External linksEdit