Blue Bird electric step van.

Blue Bird's prototype, based on a 178” wheelbase for last-mile delivery vehicles, offers a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 23,000 pounds.

Source: Canva/Blue Bird

Blue Bird Corporation, manufacturer of electric and low-emission school buses, will unveil its electric-powered step van at the 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo. The collaboration with Xos and Morgan Olson produced the prototype. Blue Bird will present its zero-emission vehicle and stripped chassis at the trade event, scheduled from May 20-23, 2024, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada.

"We at Morgan Olson eagerly anticipate a fruitful collaboration with Blue Bird and Xos in developing this step van prototype," said a representative from Morgan Olson, according to a Blue Bird news release.

Building upon its extensive experience in school bus manufacturing spanning nearly a century, Blue Bird expands its zero-emission transportation solutions to the commercial vehicle market. The showcased last-mile delivery step van and stripped chassis feature a 140kWh lithium-ion battery mounted within the frame rails, ensuring battery protection. With a single charge, the battery pack supports a vehicle range of up to 130 miles, with recharging times ranging from one to 12 hours based on the charging infrastructure.

Blue Bird's prototype, based on a 178” wheelbase for last-mile delivery vehicles, offers a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 23,000 pounds. Using lightweight materials and components maximizes vehicle payload while upholding vehicle safety standards.

Several safety features, not standard on comparable electric vehicles, are integrated into Blue Bird’s EV prototype to enhance driver protection and familiarity. These include "hill hold," preventing the vehicle from rolling backward or forward on a hill while stationary, and "electric creep," allowing the vehicle to move slowly from a stop when the driver's foot is removed from the brake pedal, mimicking a gasoline engine in gear. The Blue Bird stripped chassis also provides a 55-degree wheel cut, enhancing maneuverability in tight urban settings.

"In 2022, Blue Bird introduced its EV commercial chassis concept vehicle at ACT Expo," said Britton Smith, Blue Bird Corporation's president. "This week, we will debut the operating prototype of our electric-powered step van at the 2024 ACT Expo, based on industry-leading EV technology. For nearly a century, Blue Bird has perfected its core capabilities of designing, engineering, and manufacturing school buses from the ground up. Now, we are one step closer to applying our world-class vehicle manufacturing expertise and expanding our electric-powered product range to the commercial vehicle market."

Partnering with Xos, a prominent electric truck manufacturer and fleet electrification services provider from California, Blue Bird leverages their expertise gained from deploying hundreds of zero-emissions commercial electric vehicles since 2018. Xos' powertrain technology is a key feature in Blue Bird's step van. The collaboration also involves Morgan Olson, a Michigan-based builder of work truck bodies, responsible for providing the body for the prototype. Morgan Olson’s work truck bodies deliver millions of parcels to businesses and homes across North America daily.

"We are honored that Blue Bird has chosen to entrust Xos with the technology to power its electric step van prototype," stated Dakota Semler, CEO of Xos. "This collaboration is a testament to the reliability, efficiency, and innovation that Xos brings to the forefront of the commercial electric vehicle market."

"We at Morgan Olson are looking forward to a productive collaboration with Blue Bird and Xos on the development of this step van prototype," said Mike Ownbey, president and CEO of Morgan Olson. "By combining the expertise of our industry-leading companies, we are confident that we can offer our existing and new step van customers a new chassis option that provides great value in the commercial vehicle market."

Blue Bird anticipates its electric-powered stripped chassis to be commercially available in late 2024.

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