School bus icon Blue Bird plans to offer a factory-certified electric repower program for some of its gasoline- and propane-powered school buses. The company is working with Colorado-based powertrain manufacturer Lightning eMotors to jointly develop this retrofit powertrain system.
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 powertrain system will allow for several battery configurations, from 100 kWh to 225 kWh, supporting vehicle ranges up to 150 miles.
The conversions will be done at authorized Blue Bird and Lightning eMotors conversion centers in the US and Canada, and Blue Bird says the repowered buses will meet the same performance and safety standards as its purpose-built electric buses. The retrofitted 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.
“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,” said Britton Smith, Senior VP of Electrification at Blue Bird. “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.”
“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,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “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.”
Source: Blue Bird