Management

School Bus Sales Show Growing Demand for Type As, Electric

James Blue
Posted on December 30, 2019

Sales of electric school buses are gaining momentum. Ken Hedgecock, formerly of Thomas Built Buses, told SBF that electric vehicle technology is robust  and advancing at a rapid pace. Photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses
Sales of electric school buses are gaining momentum. Ken Hedgecock, formerly of Thomas Built Buses, told SBF that electric vehicle technology is robust  and advancing at a rapid pace. Photo courtesy Thomas Built Buses
As School Bus Fleet has reported for a good handful of years now, school bus sales remain robust, topping 45,000 units across North America. The total number of school buses sold includes a small uptick of slightly more than 2% over 2018.

2019’s numbers include a notable rise in Type A (small) bus sales, continuing an upward trend from last year. Type A sales across North America saw a nearly 17% increase over 2018, with a large portion of that attributed to a one-third spike in sales in the Canadian market. We saw a more modest boost of 4.1% in Type A sales last year, when more models, including the Micro Bird G5 and the Collins Low-Floor Bus, became available alongside options from Starcraft, Titan, and Trans Tech.

Talking of a growing demand for Type As: Thomas Built Buses and Trans Tech have a new one on offer; the Minotrek, a new narrow-body Type A school and activity bus, was introduced in July of this year.

Although that Type A bump was accompanied by a significant dip in Type D (or transit-style) bus sales, Type C (aka conventional) sales held steady in the U.S. — 28,787 units were sold this year, up by nearly 3% from last year. You can view the numbers comprising that figure as well as others from 2019 and previous years in our 2020 Fact Book sales report.

For the first time, we are seeing momentum in electric school bus sales, in part due to the Volkswagen (VW) settlement funding, and we expect that growth to continue.

Here are some more details of note:

• School bus sales have broken the 40,000-unit mark for the last five years.
• Type C school buses still make up the largest share of sales. In 2019, over two-thirds (70%) of the school buses sold in the U.S. and Canada were Type Cs.
• Type A school buses made up just more than one-fifth (22%) of total sales in 2019.
• The U.S. and Canadian markets both saw considerable dips — just about 18% and 37% respectively — in Type D sales compared to 2018.
• Eight percent of sales were Type D school buses.

We also collected data on sales of multi-function school activity buses (MFSABs) in 2019. These are not included in our school bus sales report, but they are listed below:

• MFSAB sales in the U.S.: 2,204
• MFSAB sales in Canada: 77
• 2019 MFSAB total: 2,281

James Blue is the general manager and publisher of School Bus Fleet.
James Blue is the general manager and publisher of School Bus Fleet.

Additionally, for the first time, we are seeing momentum in electric school bus sales, in part due to the Volkswagen (VW) settlement funding, and we expect that growth to continue. This year, electric buses comprised just less than 1% of school buses purchased but outpaced compressed natural gas (CNG) sales. Moreover, our 2019 School District Survey found that all-electric, which accounted for 3% of new school bus sales among school district survey respondents, edged out CNG by 1%.

This falls in line with an observation made by Ken Hedgecock, the former vice president of sales, marketing, and service for Thomas Built Buses, to SBF in a story in our November 2019 issue.

“EV [electric vehicle] technology is robust today and is advancing at a rapid pace,” he said. “We believe that electric school buses are now the future of the pupil transportation industry.”

Hedgecock added that electric vehicles are optimal for pupil transportation; this is mainly due to the opportunity to recharge buses between routes.

Turning to 2020, the forecast looks bright, with a couple manufacturers expecting to see Type C school bus sales on track with the last few years, and a boost in Type D sales.

And we wish you, our faithful readers, a happy and successful 2020 as well.

Related Topics: alternative fuels, electric bus, Type A/small buses, Volkswagen (VW)

James Blue General Manager
Comments ( 0 )
More Stories
In his new role, Sean Waters will work with regulatory agency leadership on standard-setting initiatives for commercial vehicles, including those for Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) subsidiary Thomas Built Buses. Photo courtesy DTNA
News

Daimler Trucks North America Names New VP

As vice president of product compliance and regulatory affairs, Sean Waters will work with regulatory agency leadership on standard-setting initiatives for commercial vehicles, including for Thomas Built Buses.

The National Association for Pupil Transportation learned from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that it has not completed the Entry Level Driver Training registry due to technical issues. NAPT expects the ELDT deadline to be delayed. File photo courtesy Orange (Calif.) Unified School District
News

NAPT: Driver Training Deadline Delay Likely

The National Association for Pupil Transportation learns from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that it has not completed the Entry Level Driver Training registry due to technical issues. NAPT expects the ELDT deadline to be delayed.

Alicia Jennings, owner of Jennings Bus Co. in Canton, Penn., captured this shot of her four grandchildren getting ready to board the bus for their first day of school. She said their excitement about school buses and their family bus business has been brewing since they were infants.
Photo

PHOTOS: Pupil Transportation in Pictures — Fall/Winter 2019

An educational school bus safety display, snowy school bus yards, and a bus stopping for a moose to cross the road are among the captivating photo submissions from industry personnel and those from the Snapshots department in recent issues of School Bus Fleet.

Photo courtesy AMF-Bruns of America
Article

5 New Technology Offerings for Pupil Transportation

Integrated mirrors with driver alert LEDs, an artificial intelligence-powered stop-arm camera system, and heavy-duty wheelchair tie-downs were some of the latest technology options showcased at the NAPT trade show on Nov. 5 in Columbus, Ohio.

A group of RSU 14 Windham Raymond (Maine) Schools students, with support from school staff and community members, are working to raise nearly $33,000 to add 15 extended stop arms to buses on routes in their district with high numbers of illegal passing incidents. Photo courtesy Carrie Menard
News

Students, Community Raise Funds for Extended Stop Arms

The group of Maine students, with support from school staff and community members, is working to raise nearly $33,000 to add 15 extended stop arms to buses on routes with the highest number of illegal passing incidents.

News

Man Buys School Bus for Grandchildren

Doug Hayes of Oregon buys the bus as a Christmas gift so he can begin taking five of his 10 grandkids to and from their small private school, which does not offer bus service.

Be the First to Know

Get the latest news and most popular articles from SBF delivered straight to your inbox. Stay on top of the school bus industry and don't miss a thing!