Blue Bird Begins Taking Orders For Electric School Buses

MAY 27 2018 BY MARK KANE 20

Blue Bird is now taking orders for its electric school buses shown in 2018, with first deliveries expected in late summer/early fall 2018.

Blue Bird RE Electric

Buses are available in two configurations (Type C & D) with 160 kWh battery packs for range of up to 100-120 miles.

Blue Bird currently is presenting the buses in various cities in the U.S. to school districts, fleet operators, air-quality authorities and even utility companies.

Read Also – IC Bus’s chargE Electric School Bus Hits The Road Today

The electric powertrain comes from Adomani and EDI. Next year, the company will offer a V2G option.

Press release:

Blue Bird Electric School Buses Take to the Road and Taking Orders

First major OEM to offer electric school buses in Type C & D configurations; innovation leader in alternative fuels

  • Blue Bird is taking orders for electric buses for delivery in 2018
  • Blue Bird is the only school bus OEM to offer electric Type C & D configurations
  • Blue Bird is the proven innovator and leader in alternative-fueled school buses
  • Blue Bird is the only major OEM with electric buses qualified for HVIP and TVIP grants
  • Blue Bird electric buses have completed certification testing; now in pre-production
  • Blue Bird has completed multiple customer Ride & Drive events with more planned
  • Blue Bid has already received electric bus orders from several school districts
  • Blue Bird has an exclusive partnership with US-based technology partners
  • Blue Bird is the only OEM to receive a DoE grant to develop an electric Type C school bus

MACON, Ga. The school bus industry opinion leaders have recognized that electric-powered buses are the future, and Blue Bird (NASDAQ:BLBD) intends to lead the way.

Following the overwhelmingly positive customer reaction to the unveiling of both Blue Bird’s Type C and Type D electric-powered buses at the school bus industry’s national trade shows (STN in Reno, NV and NAPT in Columbus, OH) last year, Blue Bird has been busy bringing the buses to the market in record time.

Since kicking off its national customer Ride & Drive events in seven markets in California in January, the Blue Bird electric Type D bus made successful stops in Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and Ohio. The bus is currently in New York and then will head to Florida, Ontario Canada, and several stops along the way. Ride & Drive customers include school districts, fleet operators, air-quality authorities and even utility companies, who gave unanimously enthusiastic feedback on the whisper-quiet ride, smooth acceleration and handling. (See the link to these events and Blue Bird electric bus details at

“After the outstanding response we saw in California, Blue Bird is excited to showcase our electric school buses to customers and drivers across North America, not as concept vehicles, but as a preview of our production buses later this fall”, said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation. “As both the pioneer and undisputed leader in alternative fuels, we are delighted to expand our “green” product offering by adding electric bus options in both Type C and D body styles. Our electric buses have received an Executive Order from the California Air Resources Board and both HVIP and TVIP listing, which qualify Blue Bird’s electric buses for grants available in California and New York, respectively. That’s great news for our customers and following our Ride & Drives in California, we are already receiving orders from school districts. We are open for business and taking orders!”

Blue Bird is the undisputed leader in innovation, breadth of choice and quality of engines offered to the school bus market, and is supported by industry-leading technology partners:

  • Propane, CNG and gasoline buses all with safety and reliability at the forefront and the backing of Ford Motor Company and Roush CleanTech. Modern, proven and a single engine architecture for simplicity
  • All diesel buses powered by Cummins engines, the clear industry leader in diesel
  • Electric Type C and Type D buses supported by our partners at ADOMANI and EDI

“It’s our tradition to be first-to-market in offering exciting, innovative and differentiated products that customers want and value,” added Phil Horlock. “Our electric buses complete our alternative-fuel vehicle line-up and we’re committed to continued growth in the fastest growing segment of the business. We haven’t created a fancy name for this bus or touted foreign technology – our electric bus is designed and Made in America, just as Blue Bird has been for 90 years. Welcome to Blue Bird Electric-Powered Buses!”

Key Attributes of Blue Bird’s first-to-market electric-powered school buses:

  • Available in Blue Bird Vision (Type C) and All American (Type D) models
  • Zero emissions – cleanest drivetrain available
  • The only major OEM to qualify for HVIP and TVIP grants in California and New York, respectively
  • Quoting prices and taking orders through Bird Bird’s national dealer network
  • Multiple locations for Ride & Drives – follow on and get the experience
  • Deliveries beginning in late summer/early fall 2018
  • 160kWh lithium-ion battery capacity provides expected 100-120 mile range on a single charge
  • Limited seven year battery warranty
  • Portable, standard charging station can recharge on a single shift or overnight
  • Power and acceleration better than a conventional bus
  • Low maintenance and service requirements; no transmission
  • Telematics and remote monitoring capability available
  • High-powered Vehicle-to-Grid capability coming in 2019, supported by DoE development grant
  • Exceeds Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards with Colorado Racking and Kentucky Pole Test certification standard on every Blue Bird bus
  • Exclusive electric drivetrain in school bus application, developed with partners Adomani and EDI
  • We will customize with options to meet specific customer requirements

Info about the Blue Bird Electric Road Tour here.

Categories: Bus


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20 Comments on "Blue Bird Begins Taking Orders For Electric School Buses"

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That is awesome! If they can also do V2G without significant battery degradation trumpets will sound.

I can barely imagine 1/2 a million buses with let’s say 150kWh each and a power of 50kW. All together it would be 25 gW spread out all across the county. Talk about grid stability! I’d be all for spending some defense spending on that.

Add about 20 solar panels to the bus top and it can self charge all day as well as be a charge point for school during power failures.

This is a good start. But why does one of the models pictured still have a grill?

Also how about a little better aero design? A flat front? Really?

Redesign would raise the cost for little benefit, if any. Not worth it.

Why do you need aero on a school bus? The ones in my neighborhood go 20-25 on their fastest stretches.

This is the kind of brain dead thinking assuming that an EV “should not” have a grill or that every EV needs to look like an airplane.

Here is a question – why do you still have a skull if there is nothing inside of value to protect.

So perhaps the day of the bus goes like so:
1. Run route in morning.
2. Parked during late morning and early afternoon fast charging and taking excess solar off the grid.
3. Run afternoon route.
4. Back at the bus barn by 5.
5. Remaining charge used as virtual powerplant battery storage to feed into the grid during peak demand evening hours.
6. Recharge midnight to 5 a.m. off peak.
7. Repeat.

I think that would be a great plan, but maybe require federal government mandates?

This is awesome, but I wonder why school buses always use a nosed chassis? Isn’t a flat faced design like transit buses more efficient when you do not have an engine to hide? Also I think the transit design is more aerodynamic just based on surface area?

Crumple zones

In fact, school bus codes are far stricter than car codes. They assume that it is impossible to get kids to buckle up – so, every internal surface is padded and externally, a school bus is like a tank to the point where even one school bus casualty makes national news.

So just build a small crumple zone onto the front of the frame?

Aero doesn’t matter at all when you’re going 0-30-0 over and over again. I would also think using existing chassis to save money is much more important than space efficiency. When electric catches on and becomes cost competitive, then flatter nose buses designed specifically for EV will become the norm.

Capital cost is a HUGE issue for school buses with their 2 hour a day duty cycle. It seems to be a challenging application for the early adoption of EV due to pack costs and the constant funding challenges of US schools. City buses and local delivery vehicles would have a much clearer ROI on going EV early in the adoption cycle.

Not too many places in the world use school buses like we do in the states, In Taipei kids take transit to school… MRT, etc…

1. What matters most is reducing our carbon emissions ASAP.

2. Transportation is a big chunk of emissions, roughly one third in the US. (The rest being very roughly evenly split between buildings and electricity generation.)

3. The quickest way to reduce transportation emissions and fossil fuel consumption is to convert fleets — especially delivery trucks, school and municipal buses.

4. Fleet operators tend to make decisions based on spreadsheets, not emotion. (Unlike car buyers.) So once the price of EV trucks and buses drops enough that fleet operators can be confident their TCO is measurably less than FF vehicles, they’ll leap into testing EVs and then phasing out FF vehicles as quickly as their capital budgets allow.

5. Rejoice!

Turns out the biggest issue this will solve is to keep the toxic fumes that seem to infiltrate the interior of the bus poisoning the kids inside. The vortex in the rear of the buses forces exhaust into the inside of the bus where the kids sit.

Healthy children are bad for the economy.

Sad, but true.

In the short term. In the long term, healthy children learn more and are more engaged, and become more productive adults. And that’s the best thing we can do for the economy.

Lion already deliver eLion school buses. So, why waiting a manufacturer that are only in pre-production.

If there is one heavy duty application where EVs need to be the “test bed”, it’s school buses. They have a relatively short, defined route with lots of down time between runs.