Blue Bird announced that it is equipping its school buses with the new FuelSense 2.0 software update from Allison Transmission to optimize fuel economy and performance.
A Blue Bird spokesperson confirmed that all new buses ordered with Allison transmissions as of May 1 and delivered starting this summer come with FuelSense 2.0, which includes all of the features of FuelSense 1.0 as well as DynActive Shifting to provide an infinitely variable combination of shift point. The first version of FuelSense is also no longer available as a standalone option.
The OEM added that the upgrade provides maximum value for vehicles with heavy start-stop needs, such as school buses, by using a learning algorithm to continuously find the ideal balance of fuel economy and performance. Heidi Schutte, a vice president of marketing and sales for Allison, added that customers receive increased specification flexibility and economic value as a result.
The software comes in three packages, all of which include DynActive Shifting: A no-cost FuelSense 2.0 basic option consisting of a table-based shift map and upgrades to FuelSense 2.0 Plus and FuelSense 2.0 Max.
FuelSense 2.0 Plus offers an improved “Neutral at Stop” feature that promises to lower fuel economy and emissions by reducing or eliminating the load on the engine when the vehicle is stopped. Two versions of FuelSense 2.0 Plus are available: Standard provides partial or first-level Neutral at Stop or Premium that provides full Neutral at Stop and a new, low-speed rolling capability. Blue Bird added that both versions feature a locked output at stop to prevent vehicle rollback.
FuelSense 2.0 Max includes Acceleration Rate Management to mitigate aggressive driving by automatically controlling engine torque. Blue Bird and Allison added that Accelerated Rate Management offers five levels of control and provides more precision by limiting vehicle acceleration to a customized rate.
“We are excited to see Allison’s response to our customers’ needs, by offering them ways to help increase fuel economy,” said Mark Terry, chief commercial officer at Blue Bird Corporation. “We look forward to seeing the savings districts experience with this calibration offering.”
Meanwhile, Randy Kirk, senior vice president of product engineering and product teams at Allison, commented on 3 million miles’ worth of tests conducted with customers in a variety of duty cycles.
“There were fuel economy gains of up to 6 percent,” he added in a statement. “This improvement resulted in a potential vehicle savings of $300 to $900 annually based on the application, annual mileage and fuel price.”