Fully Electric School Buses Could Be Coming To School Yard Near You

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The wheels on the bus always have gone round and round, and probably always will. But soon the process of making those wheels go round could be quite different.

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $4.4 million to Blue Bird for it to develop a low-cost fully electronic school bus, Blue Bird announced in a press release. The Georgia-based bus manufacturer plans to have a demo fleet consisting of eight EV buses in California by 2019.

Combined with additional money provided by public and private entities in California, total funding for the project could exceed $9 million.

“As the leader in alternative fuel bus solutions, the addition of an electric school bus rounds out our portfolio,” Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corporation, said in the 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.”

The buses will incorporate vehicle-to-grid technology — something Honda included on its NeuV concept — which allows stationary plug-in EVs to supply electricity back to a power grid.

“This initiative will provide resources to explore alternative fuels for school transportation while sending energy back to the grid,” Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said. “The development of a low-cost electric school bus is an investment that could save state resources in the long term.”

In addition to potentially reducing government expenditures the electric bus project also could create hundreds of jobs.

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

Blue Bird isn’t the only bus manufacturer, though, making electric buses.

Quebec-based Lion Bus revealed its eLion electric school bus in Palo Alto, Calif., on Wednesday, according to a press release from the California Governors Office of Business and Economic Development, who partnered with Lion Bus on the project.

Lion Bus plans to produce its plug-in buses in California and, according to Autoblog, four school districts in Massachusetts will be among the first to add the eLion to their fleets.

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Thumbnail photo via YouTube/BlueBirdCorporation

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