Blue Bird Announces Electric Repower Programme for School Buses

Blue Bird Corporation has announced it will offer a first-of-its-kind electric repower programme for gasoline and propane Blue Bird school buses.

Blue Bird is collaborating with Lightning eMotors, a manufacturer of electric powertrains and zero-emission vehicles, to develop the electric repower system.

This solution aims to enable Blue Bird customers to future-proof their school bus fleets by purchasing vehicles powered by gasoline or propane and then converting them easily and cost-effectively to electric buses when funds allow.

Blue Bird Repower
Repowering is seen as an excellent bridge strategy to electrification for school bus fleets

Blue Bird will launch the repower programme in 2023 for Blue Bird Vision Type C school buses built after September 2021. The electric powertrain system will allow for battery configurations from 100kWh to 225kWh, supporting a vehicle range of up to 150 miles on a single charge.

Britton Smith, senior vice president of electrification and chief strategy officer of Blue Bird Corporation said:

“An increasing number of states such as New York are in the process of mandating the purchase of all zero-emission school buses starting in 2027 to reduce harmful greenhouse gases and put student and community health first.

“Currently, gasoline and propane powered school buses serve as lower up-front cost vehicle choices compared to electric vehicles, and emit less greenhouse gases than a traditional diesel bus. Blue Bird’s innovative repower program allows customers to invest in new school buses to meet their current transportation needs with a built-in option to transition to zero-emission, electric student transportation when needed.”

Trained technicians will replace the internal combustion engines with an electric powertrain, and the equipment will then be thoroughly tested and the school buses will be certified for use. This full repower process could be completed within 30 days.

This initiative builds on Blue Bird’s existing partnership with Lightning eMotors.

Tim Reeser, chief executive officer of Lightning eMotors said:

“Repowering gasoline and propane Type C school buses is a good solution for school bus fleets that may not have the charging infrastructure in place yet but still need to purchase new buses now. Being able to purchase new buses with the understanding that Blue Bird and Lightning eMotors can repower them to zero-emissions at a later date with complete charging and telematics support is a great bridge strategy to electrification.”

Blue Bird also recently announced the launch of a business for electric school bus charging infrastructure to help power the growing number of electric school buses in North America.

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