Lauren Alaina cut back on fuel costs and her carbon footprint with a Volta-equipped All Access Coach.
Country music artist Lauren Alaina has been touring regularly for over 11 years since her debut on American Idol in 2011. In addition to the work of writing and performance, Lauren also takes an active role in managing the business and finances of the tour. One challenge she tackled in 2022 is how to reduce the environmental impact of her tours while also mitigating the rising costs of just about everything.
Green Touring Grows, But Emissions Continue
Touring takes a lot of fuel and energy, and while green touring has been a growing trend for years, even environmentally-conscious performers are still getting bad press for emissions from buses and private jets. What’s more, artists like Lauren have been impacted by rising fuel costs, which are substantial for coaches that drive or idle all day when on tour. In early 2022, Lauren’s driver introduced her to a hybridized All Access Coach tour bus equipped with a Volta Power System.
“My driver called me and said, ‘I’m telling you, you’ve got to get on this bus, and you’re going to save so much money. It’s going to be so much better for the environment,’” Lauren said, sitting comfortably in the bus on a 90-degree day before a show at Faster Horses in Brooklyn, MI. “Today’s a perfect example. We’re sitting all day long, and normally we would just be burning fuel into the air. None of us want that! The world does not need that.”
Lauren Alaina leased the X3-45 VIP from All Access Coach, a Prevost coach customizer and leasing business in Gallatin, TN, just north of Nashville. Co-owners Jim Borelli and Eric Blankenship head up their fleet of nearly 40 coaches.
Hybridizing to Save Money & Reduce Emissions
“The sales pitch is, ‘We can save you money and help the environment at the same time for a coach with a Volta system on it,’” said Eric Blankenship, co-owner of All Access Coach.
All Access Coach partnered with Volta Power Systems, a supplier of automotive-grade li-ion battery systems, to reduce and often eliminate the need for idling on its coaches.
“As the bus is driving down the road, it’s charging the Volta system. They get to the venue and have all the power they need to run everything — air conditioning, water, TV, lights — for eight to 10 hours without needing to recharge.”
Volta’s systems are scalable and integrate directly into existing chassis. Each has three main components: generation, energy storage, and power distribution. An 11,000W secondary alternator under the hood takes otherwise-wasted energy from the engine and sends it into a lithium-ion battery pack whenever the vehicle is driving. When needed, the user turns the system on with one button push and power is automatically distributed to appliances in the coach.
“We love it, especially when we are playing cornhole by the bus. It’s quiet; you can’t even tell it’s fired up. That’s pretty awesome,” Lauren said.
Many large cities, like New York City, have cracked down on emissions with aggressive anti-idling laws. NYC limits the idle time to 3 minutes. When an artist like Lauren pulls up to a venue like Madison Square Garden, she can’t idle her tour bus or run a generator to run onboard A/C regardless of temperature or access to shore power.
“We were still able to have our guests on because we were battery-operate,” said Lauren, recounting a Spring tour stop in NYC. “In my career, I think it was the first time I’ve ever been able to do that.”
Financial & Emissions Outcomes
When she’s actively on tour, Lauren estimates the system saves her hundreds of dollars on fuel costs weekly. When they used to arrive at venues without shore power, they were forced to idle the bus for hours on end, burning fuel constantly to run bus A/C, refrigerators, charge phones or laptops, and more. The All Access Coach has eliminated those excess fuel costs, but the savings don’t stop there.
“Beyond fuel consumption savings, the service savings add up,” Eric said. “We’ve seen the Volta system cut anywhere from 15 to 18 hours of engine running every single day. So while generators previously needed servicing about twice per month, which costs a couple hundred dollars each time, now it’s about half as much.”
Based on 12 hours of idling per day, conservative estimates show Lauren’s tour saves about $1,500 in fuel and generator maintenance costs every month while preventing about 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from entering the atmosphere.
Eric and the All Access Coach team see Volta-powered coaches as the future of sustainable touring. While eight coaches in their current 49-vehicle-fleet are currently equipped with Volta systems, all their new coaches are being built with Volta systems on them.
“More than ever in my career, this is the right bus,” said Lauren. “I am so proud to own a bus with a Volta Power System because it’s saving me money, it’s keeping the environment clean and green, and it’s quiet.”