On July the 11th, Blue Bird showed off two new electric-powered buses at the STN Tradeshow. Nearly one thousand lucky attendees were able to watch the unveiling live. First, the company displayed the Type A Micro Bird G5. Then, they followed it up with their electric powered Type D chassis, which will be used to power all of its Type D All American RE school buses. In December of 2016, the company was awarded a 4.4 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy.
The money was given to the company to aid the development of the Type C Vision electric-powered school bus. Blue Bird is very familiar with electric buses. In 1994, they built their very first electric bus. It went on to be used in Southern California as part of a demonstration project. The new buses are equipped with the latest technological advancements in batteries, control systems and electric motors.
Blue Bird’s President and CEO, Phil Horlock, admits the development of the electric buses further expands their offerings and provides products that their customers want and value. “With diesel, gasoline, propane and CNG engine offered across our product range, Blue Bird already leads the way in the breadth of affordable engine offerings for our customers. The addition of the 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.”
He went on to admit that now was a opportune time to bring the buses to the market. The buses release zero emissions and deliver lower operating costs. He also praised their electric engine development partners, EDI and ADOMANI. Blue Bird specifically selected the Type D RE chassis for their STN Expo display to give visitors an opportunity to look at the newest powertrain and battery components.
Blue Bird’s Vice President of Product Development, Dennis Whitaker, confirmed that the body would remain the same as the current All American RE model used for diesel units. He went on to declare that the chassis would be delivered to the company’s design group at Fort Valley as soon as the show ended. There, it will enter a test and validation phase. Whitaker expects the Type D RE chassis to go into production sometime in 2018.
The Blue Bird All American RE electric bus chassis was a cooperative project between Blue Bird and the California-based ADOMANI Inc. The chassis relies on an electric drivetrain, which has been provided by EDI, Efficient Drivetrains Inc. The bus possesses impressive battery capacities of 100 to 150 kWh with an estimated driving range of 80 to 100 miles per charge. Simultaneously, the bus is equipped with the unique Vehicle-to-Grid technology. This allows the bus to send electricity back to the grid, so school districts can “sell back” energy to the power company.
Blue Bird expects this feature to drive down the Total Cost of Ownership of the automobile. During the show, Blue Bird also showcased their Type A Micro Bird G5 Electric bus on a Ford E450 chassis. This bus offers a maximum of 100 miles per charge. Those interested in learning more about Blue Bird’s electric buses can do so here.