Based on their use, it would seem that school buses would be a fairly simple mode of transport to electrify, yet, very few of those vehicles are powered by batteries today.
Now, Blue Bird, an important American bus manufacturer better known for its school buses, announced that it is ready to bring all-electric school buses to its lineup and unveiled 2 new models.
At the STN Tradeshow in Reno this week, Blue Bird unveiled “its all-new Type A Micro Bird G5 electric-powered school bus and then revealed its all-new electric-powered Type D chassis which will power its Type D All American rear engine (RE) school bus.”
Phil Horlock, President and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation, said that the new electric powertrain will be added to its existing lineup of buses using diesel, gasoline, propane and CNG:
“The addition of electric-powered buses to our fleet is a further illustration of our commitment to provide the broadest array of school bus products that our customers want and value. With zero emissions, low operating costs and terrific electric engine development partners in ADOMANI and EDI, we believe now is a great time to bring these new electric solutions to the market.”
Blue Bird’s first two buses to receive the new powertrain are its Type A Micro Bird G5 and its Type D All American:
The company says that both buses should be able to achieve about 100 miles of range, which is generally plenty for most school bus routes.
With the Type D All American, the range is enabled by a massive 150 kWh battery pack. A smaller 100 kWh option will also be made available for less demanding routes.
Interestingly, Blue Bird says that the new electric powertrain will have a Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) feature – meaning that the buses could be used as energy storage systems. It’s not a bad idea considering school buses are often parked for long periods of time.
They aim to start production of the new electric powertrain next year.
There’s already some competition. Lion, a Quebec-based school bus manufacturer, also offers an electric school bus option, but not for Type D buses.