HomeManufacturingLatest IC Bus CE Series School Bus Targets Driver Satisfaction

Latest IC Bus CE Series School Bus Targets Driver Satisfaction

RENO, Nev. – The first IC Bus CE Series redesign in 20 years comes in electric and diesel configurations and offers standard collision mitigation technology, enhanced driver comforts, views of students at stops, and continuous engine and vehicle diagnostics.

The unveil occurred Friday at the Reno Convention Center during a presentation by IC Bus and parent company Navistar.

“We started discussing with school bus contractors and school bus transportation directors as well as bus drivers and our first initial step was just to observe,” Justina Morosin, the vice president and general manager of IC Bus told School Transportation News following the announcement. “We had a team of engineers and a team of Navistar and IC Bus [employees] who would watch day-in and day-out how a school transportation director does their job as well as how a school bus driver does their job.”

Many enhancements on the Next Gen CE Series focus on driver satisfaction and provided solutions to challenges drivers face. For instance, a mundane but vital component in a driver’s experience is the trash can, which is now secured in the stairwell. “Prior, drivers tried to put a trash can in a bus, they would have to take harness or ropes to secure it,” Morosin explained. “…[I]t’s the little pieces of observation, to say, ‘How can we make this easier for the drivers?”

A school bus contractor representative who was a part of the IC Bus focus group shared with STN that he felt the new CE Series was tailored toward driver satisfaction. And one component that stood out to him was that drivers can now control their own air conditioning and heating vents.

The new 83-passenger conventional is also targeting safety, improved efficiency and lower operating costs. The diesel version is powered by the Cummins B6.7 while the electric bus comes standard with alternating current and direct current fast charging readiness and a state-of-the-art digital instrument cluster. The electric CE also has two battery pack options of 210 kWh with 135-mile range or 315 kWh with 200-plus mile range. The electric powertrain option operates at a peak power of 255 kW or 342 horsepower.

Both versions feature standard electronic stability control and collision mitigation technology as well as an optional tire pressure monitoring system.

The bus will also contain 80 percent parts commonality with Navistar’s trucking operations. Michael Grahe, head of operations at Navistar, noted this will help streamline maintenance and repair times as well as faster service times for customers.

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“There are so many upsides for everybody in this – of course, we talked about the availability of parts – but if you look at into deploying new technology,” Mathias Carlbaum, president of Navistar explained. “…[W]e’re working with a future common platform on medium truck, as it on heavy, etc. When you come to that stage, then you deploy the latest, the best, globally into the product platform. … My point is, when you have 80-20 commonality, the time to introduce it is minimal.”

Morosin added that the bus and truck differentiate in the design changes for school bus driver comfort.

Navistar’s advanced diagnostic solution OnCommand Connection, or OCC, will also come standard on all new buses through a five-year subscription basis. Morosin said electric version comes with state of charge as well as route stimulation and analysis based on the state of charge. “Again, as we continue to build out service solutions, OCC and that digital technology and the way that we connect to that bus, becomes super critical in order to be able to provide those predictive models to our customers. For predictive maintenance, we are reducing downtime, because we are being proactive.”

The bus will be manufactured at the Tulsa, Oklahoma plant, which Carlbaum, added the company has invested an additional $65 million in. A majority is allocated to support the build and support of electric school buses.

He stated that the company believes that 50 percent of its fleet will be electric by 2030.

Dealer demonstrations will be released shortly, and full production of the Next Gen bus will begin in the fourth quarter of this year. The price of the vehicles was not stated.

While technically not part of the STN EXPO Reno, IC Bus invited select conference attendees to Friday’s unveiling. IC Bus also donated to the Kids In Need Foundation on behalf of all industry professionals and media who were at the event.

Related: IC Bus Announces Comprehensive Charging Solution for Electric School Buses
Related: Navistar, IC Bus Leaders Discuss Brand, Personal Evolution
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