FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Blue Bird Corp. has been awarded $4.4 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop an electric school bus.
In December 2016, the DOE announced that it would award $15 million to organizations in an effort to accelerate the adoption of advanced and alternative fuel vehicles.
Blue Bird was presented the largest amount of the funding to develop a zero-emissions, 100% vehicle-to-grid (V2G) electric school bus, according to the school bus manufacturer.
“As the leader in alternative fuel bus solutions, the addition of an electric school bus rounds out our portfolio,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “Thanks to this award from the Department of Energy, we will be able to pursue the development of this technology based on our many years of research. As we celebrate our 90th anniversary in 2017, the timing of this grant is impeccable.”
One of the stipulations of the award is that the bus will be an affordable, low cost, electric bus solution. Additionally, Blue Bird is looking to implement V2G technology, which will allow the bus to put electricity back into the grid, and may help bring much-needed funds to school districts.
“This initiative will provide resources to explore alternative fuels for school transportation while sending energy back to the grid,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “The development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term. We are excited to see Blue Bird develop this new technology here in Georgia.”
Blue Bird has worked with this technology before.
“We were first to market with an electric school bus in 1994,” explained Dennis Whitaker, vice president of product development for Blue Bird. “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.”
As a zero-emissions vehicle, this electric bus is expected to be able to prevent thousands of pounds of particulate matter from being disbursed into the air, helping to make a positive impact on the environment, and the children these buses will transport.
Kevin Matthews, the managing director for National Strategies, will serve as project manager.
Combined with matching funding from other public and private entities in California, the total project funding will be over $9 million and will result in an eight bus demonstration fleet deployed in California by 2019.