HIGH POINT, N.C. – Thomas Built Buses (TBB), a leading manufacturer of school buses in North America, today showcased its latest platform of technology solutions at the 46th Annual NAPT (National Association for Pupil Transportation) Conference & Tradeshow 2023 in Columbus, Ohio, held Oct. 27-31, 2023. This year’s highlights include the unveiling of Thomas Built’s evolved Saf-T-Liner C2 Type C school bus and a strategic partnership with Optimal EV to offer battery-electric conversion kits for Type A school buses.
The Evolved C2
The foundation of the evolved Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 Type C school bus is the proprietary electrical architecture system. This advanced electrical platform lays the groundwork today for seamless integration of new features, while streamlining access tomorrow to future advancements like cutting-edge active safety systems and state-of-the-art telematics.
By sharing a common platform with the entire Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) family of vehicles, Thomas Built customers will benefit from the latest technologies with unmatched efficiency and effectiveness. This update also ensures that all vehicles, including Thomas Built school buses, will function seamlessly through uniform programming and wiring design.
Additionally, the platform features more durable electrical components, strategically positioned to shield them from harsh conditions and road debris, improving long-term reliability of the bus’s electrical system.
“Our new advanced electrical architecture system in the evolved C2 marks a significant milestone for us, enabling unparalleled flexibility as we look toward the future,” said Kendra Eads, vice president of engineering at Thomas Built Buses. “This architecture allows us to further optimize driver focus, safety systems and cutting-edge technologies, resulting in the safest and most advanced school buses on the road.”
The evolved C2 also includes a refreshed, more ergonomic interior and a sleeker exterior design for enhanced performance and driver experience, including:
New easier-to-access digital instrument cluster.
Automotive-style steering wheel that provides easy access to cruise control, in addition to limited radio controls and other instrument cluster functions.
New right driver stalk that puts shifting and control capabilities at the driver’s fingertips.
Improved body switch system that accommodates additional body switches and simplifies customization without the need for rewiring.
New option for premium trim level with improved layout and additional driver comfort features like cupholders.
New grille and updated air intake design.
These enhanced features are now available on all newly ordered C2 models equipped with air brakes, with the first deliveries expected in Q1 2024.
Optimal EV Partnership
Also showcased at NAPT, Thomas Built Buses has joined forces with Optimal EV, a market leader in the low-floor electric shuttle bus market and battery-electric chassis conversion segment. This collaboration introduces battery-electric conversions for the Minotour Type A school bus, available on both the GM 4500 and Ford E450 platforms.
“Through this partnership, we will be able to provide Thomas Built dealers and school operators with the safest and most innovative solution on the market for Type A conversion,” said Jeff Hiatt, executive vice president at Optimal EV. “We are proud to be the first and only battery-electric converter for the Thomas Built Minotour Type A bus.”
With funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean School Bus Program is allocating $5 billion through 2026 to replace existing school buses with zero-emission and low-emission models, making this partnership timely and impactful.
Customers in Indiana and Maryland will be the first to receive these converted Type A buses.
About Thomas Built Buses:
Founded in 1916, Thomas Built Buses is a leading manufacturer of school buses in North America. Since the first Thomas Built bus rolled off the assembly line, the company has been committed to delivering the smartest and most innovative buses in North America. Learn more at https://thomasbuiltbuses.com or at https://www.facebook.com/thomasbuiltbuses.
Thomas Built Buses, Inc., headquartered in High Point, N.C., is a subsidiary of Daimler Truck North America LLC, a leading provider of comprehensive products and technologies for the commercial transportation industry. The company designs, engineers, manufactures and markets medium- and heavy-duty trucks, school buses, vehicle chassis and their associated technologies and components under the Freightliner, Western Star, Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp and Detroit brands. Daimler Truck North America is a subsidiary of Daimler Truck, one of the world’s leading commercial vehicle manufacturers.
About Optimal EV:
Utilizing nearly four decades of North American automotive OEM engineering prowess and seven years of EV-specific development experience, Optimal EV delivers solutions in the commercial electric vehicle space with industry-leading performance, drivability, durability, and safety. With its class-leading designs, Optimal EV brings to market the most advanced vehicles in its category offering its customers Class 4 EV platforms that significantly outperform all competitors’ products.
With a Detroit-based R&D center and in-house engineering hubs in both Europe and Asia, Optimal EV brings unmatched automotive grade engineering and supply chain management to the North American specialty vehicle segment. Building its Buy America compliant products at its state-of-the-art Indiana manufacturing facility. Optimal EV assembles its products with pride in the USA concentrating on innovation in both design and practice setting the bar in the commercial EV segment. Learn more at: www.optimal-ev.com.