SOUTH HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Collins Bus Corp. has completed the manufacture of its first NEXBUS hybrid-electric school bus. The Type A bus is built on a Ford E-450 chassis with Azure Dynamic Corp.’s parallel hybrid drive system.
The bus is configured for 14 seats, plus a wheelchair, and it will be delivered to Napa (Calif.) Valley Unified School District.
“We’re pretty excited to receive the bus and get it running,” Transportation Director Ralph Knight said. “This is technology that’s been [utilized in] delivery trucks, and we’ve learned a lot about it through that. It’s a very positive thing coming into this segment of the school bus industry, because there haven’t been a lot of alternative fuel options for special-needs buses and this technology has proven itself.”
Depending on the configuration and driving conditions, the hybrid-electric school bus can achieve an up to 40-percent increase in fuel economy while reducing maintenance costs by 30 percent, company officials said. Moreover, through reduced idling, the hybrid technology can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent.
"We are excited to bring another innovative product to the school bus industry,” said Kent Tyler, president of Collins Bus Corp. “Our customers have gotten used to seeing hybrids in passenger cars, and some of them personally own hybrids. Now they'll be able to use the same technology for their small school buses throughout North America."
NEXBUS is Collins’ trademarked name for the series of buses. The company entered into an agreement with Azure Dynamics earlier this year to develop Type A school buses with hybrid-electric systems.