School bus manufacturer Blue Bird highlighted its electric vehicle offerings and vehicle-to-grid support during the virtual Green Bus Summit.
While propane is a proven fuel option, the new and exciting thing is electric, School Transportation News Publisher Tony Corpin noted on Tuesday.
Albert Burleigh, Blue Bird’s regional executive director, said during a product showcase that same day that Blue Bird is the only school bus manufacturer to offer Type A, C and D electric buses. He reported over 400 EV sales since 2018 in 19 states and three Canadian provinces, with numbers climbing every year.
Blue Bird assists districts with all aspects of the EV ecosystem, Burleigh continued, including determining what a district’s specific needs are. This includes planning solutions, deploying EVs, and providing service and support after the sale.
He noted that districts that switch to electric from diesel can expect about an 80 percent reduction in maintenance costs because electric buses involve fewer components.
As training is key for familiarity and effective EV fleet operation, Blue Bird offers instruction for school bus drivers and technicians as well as for first responders who want to be prepared on how to handle an electric bus accident.
Adam Wilkum, business development manager at Blue Bird’s propane drivetrain partner ROUSH CleanTech, shared that he has been in the school bus industry for over 20 years and is impressed with electric’s rise in popularity in the industry.
Currently, 75 to 80 percent of school buses in the U.S. are still diesel-powered. But with new laws for NOx reduction passed by states such as California, big changes are coming for diesel school buses, he noted. Many districts should be looking to change in the near future, he said.
Why Vehicle-to-Grid is Important
In a Tuesday presentation, Blue Bird’s partner Nuvve Holding Corp. provided insight on how to effectively utilize vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities.
Marc Trahand, executive vice president of marketing for Nuvve, explained that the company’s V2G platform controls the power flow in and out of the EV chargers, creating a virtual power plant (VPP). This allows sale of stored energy from school bus batteries back to the grid when demand calls for it.
This is something that a school district cannot do on its individual level, Trahand noted. Partnering with Nuuve helps a district access markets that it could not access on its own, as well as charge effectively when energy prices are low and reduce its electrification costs, he said.
Trahand explained that school buses are uniquely positioned for this opportunity, since their batteries are larger than ones in consumer vehicles and buses are parked for long, predictable amounts of time such as summertime and holidays.
Related: Blue Bird Delivers North America’s First-Ever Commercial Application of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology in Electric School Bus Partnership with Nuvve and Illinois School Districts
Related: Webinar Shares Incentives to Drive Adoption of Electric School Buses
Related: Transportation Expert Outlines Unprecedented Federal Green School Bus Funding Opportunities
Related: Blue Bird Delivers Colorado’s First Electric School Bus
Related: New Federal Legislation Seeks $1B to Fund Electric School Buses
The Blue Bird Type C and D electric buses both come with V2G standard.
A V2G partnership with Nuvve can help a district be even more efficient than they would be if they only ran electric buses, Trahand stressed.