Blue Bird, a century-old manufacturer of America’s iconic yellow school buses, has opened a new production facility to meet growing demand for electric school buses. Announced via a press release (and an adorable promotional video) on Thursday, a new 40,000 square foot “electric vehicle build center” has opened at Blue Bird’s main manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Georgia, designed to increase the company’s production of electric school buses from 100 a year to 5,000.
Electric versions of Blue Bird’s “Vision” (a classic “Type C” bus with a capacity of 77 passengers) and “All American” (a flat-fronted “Type D” bus for 84 passengers) buses will be assembled in the new facility, each fitted with a 155kWh battery pack that offers around 120 miles of range and takes between three and eight hours to recharge. Nearly 1,000 Blue Bird electric buses are currently in service, representing 6% of the company’s total volume. The company currently builds four electric school buses every day, but hopes its new EV facility will increase production to 20 buses a day.
Blue Bird anticipates a significant increase in demand for electric school buses. School districts across the United States and Canada have already begun replacing their fleets of traditionally powered buses with all-electric models in a bid to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, save fuel and improve student health. In the United States in particular, sales of electric school buses are expected to increase due to the billions of dollars in incentives available under President Biden’s infrastructure plan.
“Based on the historic bipartisan Infrastructure Act alone, we expect thousands more electric school bus orders worth an estimated $1 billion over five years,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of management of Blue Bird Corporation. “Our new Electric Vehicle Building Center reflects Blue Bird’s unwavering commitment to school districts across the United States and Canada to meet growing demand and provide clean, safe and reliable transportation for students when they need it. need.”
Billions of dollars in incentives under Biden’s infrastructure plan increase demand for all-electric school buses
School buses are an ideal candidate to move away from traditional fuels like diesel (which now accounts for less than half of Blue Bird’s volume). In addition to preventing schoolchildren from being exposed to harmful emissions, the short, fixed route of school buses is well suited to electric vehicles with limited range. They also have long periods outside of twice-daily school runs where they don’t work, giving them plenty of time to recharge.
In the face of overwhelming demand, the Biden-Harris administration nearly doubled the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) cash pool for its Clean School Bus program reimbursement last year from $500 million. dollars to $965 million. Under EPA’s proposed new greenhouse gas emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles, the agency projects that 45 percent of all school buses produced by 2032 will be electric vehicles.