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Blue Bird Debuts New Electric School Buses

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【Summary】Leading school bus designer and manufacturer, Blue Bird, will soon add two electric school buses to its lineup.

Original Mia Bevacqua    Aug 19, 2017 4:00 PM PT
Blue Bird Debuts New Electric School Buses

Remember the school buses you rode as a kid? The ones that sucked down diesel fuel and belched out black smoke? Soon, those familiar yellow dinosaurs may be a thing of the past. Blue Bird, a leading school bus designer, has just announced the development of two new electric school buses.

Going National

This is not Blue Bird's first attempt at reinventing the classic child transport. In 1994, the company built an electric bus as part of a demonstration in California. Unfortunately, like GM's EV1, it never made mass production. This time around though, Blue Bird plans to take their electric bus nation wide, selling to customers across the country.

Electric Bus Technology

School buses are not known for having cutting edge technology. Current models seem to be stuck in the 1990s, alongside Beanie Babies and denim suits. But, the new Blue Bird buses promise the latest technology, including electric motors, batteries and control systems.

The first offering is the Type A Micro Bird G5 model. It will be built on a Ford E-450 chassis and have a range of 100 miles on a single charge – enough to get the kiddos to school and back. If you need to ferry more children than the short bus allows, you can step up to the Type D All American rear engine (RE) model. This rig provides an 80 to 100 mile range from 100-150 kWh battery packs. Not bad considering the Nissan Leaf has an approximate 100-mile range.

Another noteworthy technology bluebird is working on is Vehicle-to-grid (V2G). This technology allows electricity to be delivered back to the grid. This will help reduce cost of ownership for school districts. So, don't worry, the local elementary won't need a massive bake sale to pay for their eco-friendly bus.

Getting the Buses to Market

Blue Bird announced the new electric buses after it procured a $4.4 million USD grant from the Department of Defense. By 2018, both Type A and Type D models will be available to consumers.

The company will continue to produce diesel, gas, propane and CNG buses as well. However, they believe adding an electric bus to the lineup will appeal to many customers. Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp, states "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."

Soon, instead of hearing the clatter of a diesel engine, your child may hear only silence as the school bus approaches. At least, that's what Blue Bird hopes for.

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