Blue Bird working with Lightning eMotors to offer electric repower option for gasoline- and propane-powered school buses
Blue Bird Corporation will offer a factory-certified electric repower program on select gasoline- and propane-powered Blue Bird school buses. The company is collaborating with Lightning eMotors to develop this repower electric vehicle (EV) powertrain system.
Blue Bird customers can future-proof their school bus fleet by purchasing gasoline- or propane-powered vehicles and converting them easily and cost-effectively to zero-emission, electric buses later.
Blue Bird will launch the repower program in 2023 for gasoline- and propane-powered Blue Bird Vision Type C school buses built after September 2021. The electric repower system will enable the same performance and safety standards customers expect from OEM-built electric vehicles.
The electric powertrain system will allow for several battery configurations from 100 kWh to 225 kWh supporting a projected vehicle range of up to 150 miles on a single charge depending on battery configuration.
The school bus conversion process from gasoline- or propane-powered to electric will be done to the same OEM safety and quality standards as a new Blue Bird bus at authorized Blue Bird and Lightning eMotors conversion centers in the United States and Canada. Highly trained technicians will replace the internal combustion engine with an advanced EV powertrain, properly test the equipment, and certify the school bus.
The bus will retain the remainder of its original warranties, and the EV powertrain will be issued a new OEM warranty. The full repower process could be completed within 30 days from vehicle delivery to the authorized conversion center.
The repower program builds on the cooperation between 95-year-old school bus manufacturer Blue Bird and electric powertrain manufacturer Lightning eMotors. Lightning eMotors draws from its broad EV repowering experience based on more than 300 zero-emission electric commercial vehicles in operation and more than 2 million real-world fleet miles driven to-date.
Blue Bird and Lightning eMotors recently announced a Class 5-6 electric vehicle platform to expand Blue Bird’s zero-emission transportation solutions to the commercial and recreational vehicle markets. (Earlier post.) Blue Bird’s flexible Class 5-6 chassis will enable a broad range of fully-electric vehicles, including last-mile delivery step vans, motorhomes, and other specialty vehicles. Blue Bird plans to launch production of its Class 5-6 EV chassis in late 2023.
Blue Bird is the only US-owned and operated school bus manufacturer in the United States with more than 170,000 school buses on the road today. The company has more than 20,000 propane, natural gas, and electric-powered buses in operation today.