Blue Bird buses are familiar to every American who has kids, or who ever attended school. The Georgia-based manufacturer (Nasdaq: BLBD) has built over 550,000 buses since its formation in 1927, and approximately 180,000 of its classic yellow buses are in operation today.
Now the company has won a grant of $4.4 million from the DOE to support the development of a zero-emission school bus with vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capability.
Blue Bird is not unfamiliar with electric drive technology. “We were first to market with an electric school bus in 1994,” explained Dennis Whitaker, Vice President of Product Development. “Since then, we have been closely monitoring this technology, and have found that recent battery management advances have made this project viable. We should see our first new Blue Bird electric school bus in 2019.”
One of the stipulations of the award is that the bus will be an affordable, low-cost solution. V2G technology will allow the bus to put electricity back into the grid, which may help bring much-needed funds to school districts. “The development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.
According to Michael Simon, CEO of TransPower, this electric bus solution could also create additional jobs throughout the US. “Once these electric buses go into production, there is a huge potential for job growth,” said Simon. “Supplying electric drive components for say, 500 buses a year, would have the potential to create up to 250 new jobs in California.”
Combined with matching funding from other public and private entities in California, the total project funding will be over $9 million. A demonstration fleet of eight buses is to be deployed in California by 2019.