School bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation has seen a surge in demand for their 100% electric school buses since their introduction in 2018. While a majority of these buses have been sold in California, the interest in electric is nation-wide, with buses being deployed all over the country.
Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation, said the company expects to have close to 300 electric buses on the road by year-end.
With districts able to obtain grant and other financial assistance, locations that we have deployed electric school buses in were the first in their state to have an EV bus in their fleet. As the only manufacturer currently producing every bus type in Electric, we can help districts start to introduce and potentially transform their entire fleet over time to zero emissions.
As districts continue to see the environmental benefits of low- and zero-emissions solutions, such as electric, it is inevitable for our industry to see this shift. In fact, over 50% of what we produce is an alternative to diesel, and we are prepared to meet further growth in demand.—Phil Horlock
With its electric-powered school sales up more than 250% in fiscal 2020 compared with last year, and an ever-increasing interest from school districts and fleet operators across the US and Canada, Blue Bird is ramping up its electric bus production capacity to 1,000 units annually to meet the anticipated growth in demand.
Electric buses built by Blue Bird are now equipped with vehicle to grid (V2G) capability, allowing communities to use the electric buses as back-up power sources in emergency situations, as well as revenue generators through selling electricity back to the grid while the bus is plugged in during peak power use times. Electric buses also have fewer parts to maintain, which helps the district see immediate savings on maintenance costs.
The usual concern with deciding to introduce electric in a new area is the climate—will it work in cold weather? We have deployed buses in over 25% of all states in the US, including cold climates such as North Dakota and New York, as well as hot areas such as Texas and Georgia. Charging is a key part of the equation that districts should really look into, and we have an incredible dealership network that helps districts navigate infrastructure setup to ensure effective charging and operation.— Mark Terry, chief commercial officer for Blue Bird