Blue Bird reports "unprecedented interest" in its electric school buses as sales increased more than 250% year-over-year in fiscal 2020.
The company expects that by the end of this year it will have close to 300 EVs on the road in the U.S. and Canada, and now is preparing to ramp-up also the manufacturing capacity.
The plan is to expand production sixfold, up to 1,000 units annually, "to meet the anticipated growth in demand."
We guess it should work out, as there are more than 600,000 school buses in service in the U.S. and Canada. Moreover, 95% of them are diesel and the average age is roughly 11 years.
According to Blue Bird, customers are increasingly looking at alternatives to diesel, especially when they can get obtain a grant and other financial assistance.
Already more than half of Blue Bird's new sales are non-diesel buses (electric or other ICE type).
To benefit from the transition, the company electrified all its models (Type A, Type C and Type D configurations).
Additionally, Blue Bird school buses are equipped with bi-directional V2G charging/discharging system. There are two possible advantages of having V2G:
- users can sell power back to the electric grid at peak-demand times (particularly in summer when school buses are idle), thereby reducing operating costs
- it can act as a backup power source in emergency situations
While most of the Blue Bird EVs were sold in California, the company deployed buses in over 25% of all states in the U.S. - "including cold climates such as North Dakota and New York, as well as hot areas such as Texas and Georgia".
Here is an interesting presentation of the Blue Bird electric school bus with Hinton Harrison, senior technical specialist - engineer. He points out that the first EV was built in 1994, although the EV market started to take off just in the recent few years, when modern versions, with lithium-ion batteries emerged.