Blue Bird cites lower upfront costs and maintenance savings as key factors in the growing sales of its Vision Gasoline school bus.

Blue Bird cites lower upfront costs and maintenance savings as key factors in the growing sales of its Vision Gasoline school bus.

MACON, Ga. — Blue Bird recently hit a milestone with its gasoline-powered Type C school bus: 2,500 units sold.

Blue Bird’s Vision Gasoline school bus, which runs on a Ford 6.8L V10 engine, became available in 2016. The OEM said that sales have grown substantially over the past two years due to lower upfront costs, maintenance savings, cold weather startup and heating capabilities, and public fueling accessibility.

Frederick County (Va.) Public Schools received the 2,500th Blue Bird Vision Gasoline school bus. John Grubbs, director of transportation for the district, said that the purchase was part of his department’s efforts to assess its operations and identify ways to improve incrementally.

“The decision to purchase gasoline buses was based on the cost savings they offer, the fact that they can be more easily maintained than diesel buses, and the opportunity to be more environmentally friendly,” Grubbs said. “Thus far, we've been very pleased with their performance.”

While gasoline has long been a common fuel for Type A small school buses, before 2016 there had not been a gasoline-powered large school bus offered by major OEMs in many years.

“After 30 years, gasoline school buses are making a comeback, thanks to the Blue Bird Vision Gasoline,” said Mark Terry, chief commercial officer of Blue Bird. “With a gasoline bus, there are no additional emission filters and exhaust fluid or other complex after-treatment devices needed. Combine that with a lower acquisition price, and customers experience immediate savings and low total ownership costs.”

More than 800 school districts across North America have purchased the Blue Bird Vision Gasoline school bus. The OEM said that in addition to cost benefits, districts have cited the buses’ power, reduced noise, and reduction of parts due to the lack of special technology needed to meet emissions standards.

Some school districts have also reported that it’s easier to recruit and retain technicians to work on gasoline buses.

“Our mechanics love the Blue Bird Vision Gasoline buses,” said Brian Gibson, director of transportation for New Braunfels (Texas) Independent School District. “We have not encountered any issues, and it’s a cost savings for our preventive maintenance compared with our diesel buses. EGRs, DEF, and DPF are just some of the expenses that we can now eliminate.”

The Blue Bird Vision Gasoline school bus is certified to the federal standard of 0.20 g/bhp-hr for nitrogen oxide emissions.

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