Blue Bird Debuts Next-Gen Electric School Bus with Longer Battery Range

Blue Bird next-gen bus

Photo by BlueBird

by | Jul 12, 2023

Blue Bird next-gen bus

(Credit: Blue Bird)

Blue Bird has put its new, next-generation electric school bus on display for the first time, offering increased capacity and efficiencies. 

Blue Bird, founded in 1927, designs, engineers, and manufactures school buses. The company is the only U.S.-owned and operated school bus manufacturer in the country and has more than 20,000 propane, natural gas, and electric-powered buses in operation today. 

The company’s latest school bus mode, dubbed the Vision, is part of a continued partnership between Blue Bird and Accelera by Cummins, the zero-emissions technology business segment of engine company Cummins. The new Type C electric school bus has a 196-kilowatt-hour battery capacity, up 25% from today’s model bus, the company said. The battery range is up to 130 miles on a single charge, and it takes three hours to fully recharge with a charging rate of 80 kWh.

The company also touted other features in the bus’ debut at STN Expo West in Reno, Nevada, including a vehicle weight reduction of approximately 1,000 lbs. and an increased rider capacity of  77 passengers, up from 72 passengers. Plus, the new model reportedly does better in cold weather than previous versions, with an improved engineering design and internally insulated batteries that limit heat loss in energy storage. It also has an optional fuel-fired heating system that can generate more than 20% more cabin heat.

Blue Bird noted it improved the warranty on the upgraded system, allowing for double the amount of energy throughput at 360 MWh. 

“This will benefit Blue Bird customers who utilize the batteries’ revenue-generating vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities,” the company stated. “V2G technology allows EV fleet operators to sell excess energy stored in school bus batteries back to electric power companies at a profit.”

The company plans to build its next-gen school buses at its manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Georgia, where it recently opened its EV Build-Up Center. The facility has the ability to produce 5,000 electric school buses per year. 

Accelera, which has partnered with Blue Bird for five years, will supply the electric powertrain for the new electric school bus model.

“Over the past century, Blue Bird has emerged as an iconic company at the forefront of technology advancement and innovation in the school bus industry,” said Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation, which operates nearly 1,000 electric school buses in North America today. “With our next-generation Vision electric school bus, we continue to take clean student transportation to the next performance level and provide superior, zero-emission buses to school districts across North America. Blue Bird is ever evolving.”

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