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Blue Bird Corp Taps TransPower for e-Bus

January 31, 2017 in Electric Drive, EVs, money awarded, school buses by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

The Project Is Supported by a $4.4 Million DoE Award
As Manufacturer Says It Will Explore V2G Connections

Blue Bird has tapped Southern California’s TransPower and says it will look at V2G/vehicle-to-grid technology as it develops a battery electric school bus. The project is backed by a $4.4 million award from EERE, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. updated February 6

With U.S. DoE support and the help of California's TransPower, Blue Bird will add an all-battery electric to its line of gasoline, diesel, propane autogas and CNG school buses.

With U.S. DoE support and the help of California’s TransPower, Blue Bird will add an all-battery electric to its line of gasoline, diesel, propane autogas and CNG school buses.

“As the leader in alternative fuel bus solutions, the addition of an electric school bus rounds out our portfolio,” Blue Bird Corp president and CEO Phil Horlock said in a release. “Thanks to this award from the Department of Energy, we will be able to pursue the development of this technology based on our many years of research.”

“We were first to market with an electric school bus in 1994,” product development VP Dennis Whitaker says in the announcement. “Since then, we have been closely monitoring this technology, and have found that recent battery management advances have made this project viable.

2019 for the First Battery Blue Bird Bus

“We should see our first new Blue Bird electric school bus in 2019.”

“TransPower will supply the battery packs and electric drive systems,” Whitaker told F&F.

“Once these electric buses go into production, there is a huge potential for job growth,” TransPower president and CEO Mike Simon says in the Blue Bird release. “Supplying electric drive components for say, 500 buses a year, would have the potential to create up to 250 new jobs in California.”

“A focus of the project is to build on unique, specific EV technologies TransPower has been developing for school buses and other medium and heavy-duty vehicles” (F&F, September 13, 2016), Simon told F&F.

‘Unparalleled’ Product Validation

TransPower has baselined lithium iron phosphate batteries for the Type C electric bus, but is expected to offer more options as battery technology continues to evolve. The company is also developing a 480-volt, 200-kilowatt onboard charger, allowing the vehicle to be charged from a standard three-phase receptacle in about an hour. Target range is 80 miles. The first eight all-battery buses from Blue Bird are to be tested by multiple school districts in California.

Before the 8 demonstration buses are deployed, Blue Bird notes, the manufacturer will test four prototype buses, including one that will go through accelerated durability testing and one that will be crash tested, “thereby providing a level of product validation the team believes will be unparalleled in the electric school bus market.”

Money for Schools via V2G?

Blue Bird said too that it “is looking to implement technology, known as V2G, that will allow the bus to put electricity back into the grid – which may help bring much-needed funds to school districts.”

“This initiative will provide resources to explore alternative fuels for school transportation while sending energy back to the grid,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, as quoted in Blue Bird’s Friday announcement.

“The development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term,” the governor said. Blue Bird is based and operates two factories in Fort Valley, Ga., south of Macon.

Kevin Matthews, managing director of energy and environment for Washington, D.C.-based NSI/National Strategies, will serve as battery bus project manager as a consultant to Blue Bird.

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Blue Bird, VP Dennis Whitaker, 478-825-2021; [email protected];

TransPower, president Mike Simon, 858-248-4255; [email protected]

TransPower, VP Joshua Goldman, 858-449-4629; [email protected];

NSI, National Strategies, Kevin Matthews, 202-349-7001 [email protected];

Source: Blue Bird Bus with Fleets & Fuels follow-up

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