Accelera, Blue Bird unveil next-gen electric school bus

Cummins’ zero-emissions business segment, Accelera by Cummins, and Georgia-based electric and low-emission school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp. premiered the next-generation Vision electric school bus last week at STN Expo West in Reno, Nev., a leading North American student transportation industry and technology event.

Blue Bird Vision electric school bus Blue Bird’s next-generation Vision electric school bus, which features the Accelera PowerDrive 7000, on display at STN Expo West 2023 in Reno, Nevada.(Photo: Blue Bird Corp.)

The launch is a product of a five-year partnership between the two companies that Brian Wilson, general manager of Electrified Components at Accelera described as “defining a new era of excellence in technology innovation and service support.”

“Continuous improvement is in our DNA and we are driven to provide safe, efficient and sustainable electric school buses across North America by offering tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of our customers while raising the bar on expectations for BEVs,” he added.

The new Blue Bird electric school bus is equipped with the Accelera PowerDrive 7000, the newest version of Accelera’s electric powertrain system. The PowerDrive 7000 offers simplified architecture with fewer system components and optimized software that Accelera said improve the vehicle’s energy distribution and reliability while reducing maintenance. The system also features more compact and lighter next-gen batteries with a capacity of 196 kWh, a 25% increase from the previous model. Internal insulation of the batteries helps minimize heat loss within the energy storage system.

According to the companies, the updated battery technology means the electric school buses can offer more seating capacity – increasing from 72 to 77 passengers – and can now travel up to 130 miles on a single charge.

To ensure better build quality and quicker lead times, Accelera and Blue Bird said they have enhanced their assembly process for this new generation of electric school buses. The companies also said they are still on track to meet their goal of deploying a fleet of 1,000 electric school buses in North America within 12 to 18 months.

“Over the past century, Blue Bird has emerged as an iconic company at the forefront of technology advancement and innovation in the school bus industry,” said Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation, which operates nearly 1,000 electric school buses in North America today. “With our next-generation Vision electric school bus, we continue to take clean student transportation to the next performance level and provide superior, zero-emission buses to school districts across North America.”


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