Blue Bird, ROUSH CleanTech Extend Alt-Fuel School Bus Partnership

The Blue Bird Vision Propane school bus.

Blue Bird Corp. and ROUSH CleanTech extend partnership on producing alternative-fuel school buses through 2025, the companies announced.

Blue Bird is the first and, to date, the only school bus manufacturer to offer a complete line of CNG, gasoline and propane models from one common engine architecture, which Blue Bird said simplifies service and maintenance. ROUSH CleanTech is the first Ford QVM-certified alternative fuel vehicle manufacturer to modify the 6.8L V10 engine to run on any of the three fuels.

ROUSH’s propane-autogas system has proved to be especially popular at school districts nationwide that are seeking alternatives to diesel. The two companies have worked together since 2010 to produce the Blue Bird Vision Propane and Micro Bird G5 school buses, and to date have delivered over 16,000 units to over 1,300 school districts nationwide.

In doing so, Blue Bird becomes the first manufacturer to offer a 100-gallon, extended-range propane fuel tank and the first to market a large school bus powered by a gasoline engine in over two decades.

Meanwhile, ROUSH makes the first and only propane engine for the Class 4-7 markets that is certified to the optional low oxides of nitrogen (NOx) level of 0.05 grams per brake horsepower per hour, with an eye on reaching 0.02 g/bhp/hour. Blue Bird and ROUSH added that the low-NOx levels mean at least 75 percent cleaner emissions than from other available engines.

“Partnering exclusively with ROUSH CleanTech and Ford Motor Co., Blue Bird has led the way in bringing clean and cost-effective alternative-fuel powered school buses to the student transportation industry,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “Together, we have firmly established Blue Bird’s propane, gasoline and CNG solutions as the undisputed school bus leader in alternative fuels. We are delighted to extend our special and exclusive partnership well into the next decade, and look forward to bringing more exciting and differentiating products to the school bus market.”

Last week at the ACT EXPO (Long Beach, Calif.), ROUSH CleanTech announced it is entering the electrified truck market, technology that could eventually make its way into both the large and small school bus segments. Blue Bird currently partners with Adomani and Efficient Drivetrains, Inc. on producing all-electric versions of the Vision and Type D All-American. Those are expected to roll out of the factory to customers later this year. ROUSH CleanTech President Todd Mouw said his company is currently seeking its own vehicle OEM partner, but remains committed to Blue Bird and the school bus industry, as shown by Thursday’s announcement.

“We are committed to supporting the student transportation industry’s push away from diesel to a simpler, cleaner and more cost-effective solution,” Mouw added. “This contract extension gives our customers and prospects the confidence that we are here for the long term, and will help them achieve their economic and environmental sustainability goals into the future.”