The evolved version of the Saf-T-Liner C2 is expected to reach school districts in Q1 2024.  -  Image: Canva/Thomas Built Buses

The evolved version of the Saf-T-Liner C2 is expected to reach school districts in Q1 2024.

Image: Canva/Thomas Built Buses

During the trade show at this week’s National Association for Pupil Transportation (NAPT) annual conference, Thomas Built Buses announced an evolved Saf-T-Liner C2 Type C school bus and a strategic partnership with Optimal EV to offer battery-electric conversion kits for Type A school buses.

Next Step for the C2

New features of the Saf-T-Liner C2 have their foundation in the proprietary electrical architecture system, which lays the groundwork for feature integration while streamlining access to future advancements in safety systems and telematics.

The platform, shared with the entire Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) family of vehicles, includes more durable electrical components that are positioned to shield them from harsh conditions and road debris, improving long-term reliability of the C2’s electrical system.

“Our new advanced electrical architecture system in the evolved C2 marks a significant milestone for us, enabling unparalleled flexibility as we look toward the future,” said Kendra Eads, vice president of engineering for Thomas Built Buses. “This architecture allows us to further optimize driver focus, safety systems, and cutting-edge technologies, resulting in the safest and most advanced school buses on the road.”

The evolved C2 also features a refreshed, more ergonomic interior and a sleeker exterior design for enhanced performance and driver experience, including:

  • New easier-to-access digital instrument cluster.
  • Automotive-style steering wheel that provides easy access to cruise control, as well as limited radio controls and other instrument cluster functions.
  • New right driver stalk that puts shifting and control capabilities at the driver’s fingertips.
  • Improved body switch system that accommodates additional body switches and simplifies customization without the need for rewiring.
  • New option for premium trim level with improved layout and additional driver comfort features, such as cup holders.
  • New grille and updated air intake design.

These enhanced features are now available on all newly ordered C2 models equipped with air brakes. The first deliveries are expected in Q1 2024.

Optimal EV Type A School Bus Partnership

Thomas Built officials also revealed that they’ve joined forces with Optimal EV, active in the low-floor electric shuttle bus market and battery-electric chassis conversion segment. This collaboration introduces battery-electric conversions for Minotour Type A school buses, available on both the GM 4500 and Ford E450 platforms.

“Through this partnership, we will be able to provide Thomas Built dealers and school operators with the safest and most innovative solution on the market for Type A conversion,” said Jeff Hiatt, executive vice president at Optimal EV. “We are proud to be the first and only battery-electric converter for the Thomas Built Minotour Type A bus.”

Customers in Indiana and Maryland will be the first to receive these converted Type A buses, according to a news release.

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