Seven of the EV buses delivered were Type D All American units, the larger of the two buses pictured above, which can ferry 72 passengers. They have a range of up to 120 miles, and recharge in six to eight hours. Blue Bird also handed over one of the smaller Type A Micro Bird G5 buses, with a 100-mile range and similar charging times. They will all go into operation during this school year.
Customers say they're excited to use the buses, which are zero-emissions versions of ones they've been using already. "Our mechanic is familiar with Blue Bird Type D buses, so it was an easy choice for our fleet," said Hector Morales, Mountain View School District transportation office supervisor.
Mark Toti, transportation manager at Bellflower Unified School District, echoed that statement. "We currently operate 26 Blue Bird CNG buses, and feel comfortable relying on local support from Blue Bird in order to introduce this new technology to our existing fleet."
Grants and government programs helped pay for the buses and their infrastructure, but Blue Bird expects them to offer promise without such large incentives. Blue Bird CEO Phil Horlock said that "with battery technology constantly advancing and becoming more efficient, we foresee a great future for growth."
Blue Bird is developing vehicle-to-grid capabilities for its electric buses, which could save fleet owners money, and in some cases even provide income to offset the cost of the purchase. Blue Bird is developing the technology with the help of government funding, and is planning to launch a test fleet of V2G buses in California next year.