Supply chain disruptions and semiconductor shortages have limited Blue Bird's electric school...

Supply chain disruptions and semiconductor shortages have limited Blue Bird's electric school bus production.

Photo: Blue Bird

Blue Bird Corp. (NASDAQ: BLBD) reported net sales of $206.1 million and a large backlog of school buses in the third quarter as new pricing took effect amid ongoing supply chain constraints.

"The Blue Bird team continued to execute a rigorous plan to improve operations, reduce fixed costs, and recover economics through pricing," said Matthew Stevenson, Blue Bird's president and CEO. "All new bus orders reflected a 25% price increase year over year. In addition, we partnered with our valued dealer network to recover substantial pricing on backlog units. Our previously forecasted plan is starting to pay off in 2H 2022, despite continued inflationary pressures and global supply chain disruptions."

Stevenson reported firm orders for more than 380 electric school buses: "We expect demand for our EV school buses to further increase as the EPA's 2022 Clean School Bus Rebate Program will accelerate adoption of zero-emission student transportation across the United States."

Other developments for Blue Bird in the EV ecosystem include:

  • Launch of Blue Bird Energy Services, providing a comprehensive charging infrastructure for EV buses.
  • Collaboration with Lightning eMotors on a flexible Class 5-6 electric chassis for use with last-mile delivery step vans, motorhomes, and other specialty vehicles.
  • Plans for a repower program in 2023, which will allow conversion of gasoline- and propane-powered Blue Bird Type C buses to electric.

"The repower program represents an excellent bridge strategy to the electrification for school bus fleets," Stevenson said. "All these developments clearly demonstrate that Blue Bird is well-positioned to shape the future of the transportation industry."

Despite the company's enthusiasm for EV, production remains constrained by supply chain issues and a "temporary but critical" shortage of EV semiconductor parts. So, although the company reported improving margins and aggressive cost-control measures, Blue Bird CFO Razvan Radulescu indicated that the company is revising its guidance for 2022 to net revenue of $750-800 million - down from $800-900 million forecasted in the second quarter report.

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