Blue Bird Corporation is launching its next-generation Vision electric school bus, representing a partnership between the bus manufacturer and Accelera by Cummins, Cummins' zero-emissions technology business segment.
Features of the New Vision Electric School Bus
The new Type C electric school bus features a battery capacity of 196kWh, about 25% better compared to today's model bus. The battery enables a vehicle range of up to 130 miles on a single charge and takes about three hours to fully recharge, supporting a fast-charging rate of 80 kW.
Blue Bird improved the warranty on the upgraded system to allow for 360 MWh of energy throughput, more than double the amount compared to the standard battery offering. This is expected to benefit Blue Bird customers who use the batteries' revenue-generating vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities. V2G technology allows EV fleet operators to sell excess energy stored in school bus batteries back to electric power companies at a profit.
The next-generation compact and lightweight batteries contribute to improved efficiency and a vehicle weight reduction of approximately 1,000 lbs. In turn, Blue Bird increased the seating capacity of its new Vision electric bus to 77 passengers, up from 72 passengers.
In addition, the advanced Vision electric school bus reportedly performs even better in cold weather climates than its predecessor. An improved engineering design and internally insulated batteries limit the heat loss in the vehicle’s next-generation energy storage system. Furthermore, a new optional fuel-fired heating system generates over 20% more cabin heat than the current solution.
Evolving and Improving EV School Bus Performance
“Over the past century, Blue Bird has emerged as an iconic company at the forefront of technology advancement and innovation in the school bus industry,” said Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation, which operates nearly 1,000 electric school buses in North America today. “With our next-generation Vision electric school bus, we continue to take clean student transportation to the next performance level and provide superior, zero-emission buses to school districts across North America. Blue Bird is ever evolving.”
Blue Bird will continue to build its electric school buses at its manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Ga. The company recently celebrated the grand opening of its EV Build-Up Center, which will enable Blue Bird to increase its long-term production capacity to 5,000 electric school buses a year. Accelera will supply the electric powertrain for Blue Bird’s new Vision electric school bus. Blue Bird and Cummins have collaborated on technology innovation for decades and continue to serve school districts nationwide.
"Accelera's partnership with Blue Bird is in its fifth year, and together we are providing safe, efficient and sustainable electric school buses in North America,” said Brian Wilson, general manager of electrified components at Accelera. “Decarbonizing fleets is not easy, but collaborations like this are defining a new era of excellence in technology innovation and service support."