ACT Expo 2024: Blue Bird debuts electric step van

Electric and low-emission school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation debuted an electric-powered step van prototype at the 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation (ACT) Expo this week in Las Vegas. The company teamed up with Xos and Morgan Olson to manufacture the prototype.

Blue Bird electric-powered step van prototype The zero-emission last-mile delivery step van and stripped chassis on display feature a 140-kWh lithium-ion battery. (Photo: Blue Bird Corp.)

The zero-emission last-mile delivery step van and stripped chassis on display feature a 140-kWh lithium-ion battery, with batteries mounted inside the frame rails for added protection. The battery pack supports a vehicle range of up to 130 miles on a single charge, the company said, and takes between one and 12 hours to fully recharge depending on the charging infrastructure.

The prototype vehicle utilizes a 178-in. wheelbase for last-mile-delivery vehicles with up to a 23,000-lb. GVWR. It includes safety features such as “hill hold,” which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward or forward when sitting stationary on a hill, and “electric creep,” which allows the vehicle to slowly start moving from a stop when the driver’s foot is removed from the brake pedal to simulate a gasoline engine in gear. In addition, the stripped chassis provides a 55° wheel cut to improve maneuverability in tight urban settings.

“In 2022, Blue Bird introduced its EV commercial chassis concept vehicle at ACT Expo,” noted Britton Smith, president of Blue Bird Corporation. “This week, we will debut the operating prototype of our electric-powered step van at the 2024 ACT Expo that’s based on industry-leading EV technology.

“For nearly a century, Blue Bird has perfected its core capabilities of designing, engineering and manufacturing school buses from the ground up. Now we are one step closer to applying our world-class vehicle manufacturing expertise and expanding our electric-powered product range to the commercial vehicle market.”

Blue Bird partnered with Xos, an electric truck manufacturer and fleet electrification services provider from California, for the powertrain technology used in the step van, and Morgan Olson, a Michigan-based builder of work truck bodies, for the body.

Dakota Semler, CEO of Xos, said of the partnership: “We are honored that Blue Bird has chosen to entrust Xos with the technology to power its electric step van prototype. This collaboration is a testament to the reliability, efficiency and innovation that Xos brings to the forefront of the commercial electric vehicle market.”

“We at Morgan Olson are looking forward to a productive collaboration with Blue Bird and Xos on the development of this step van prototype,” added Mike Ownbey, president and CEO of Morgan Olson. “By combining the expertise of our industry-leading companies, we are confident that we can offer our existing and new step van customers a new chassis option that provides great value in the commercial vehicle market.”

Blue Bird anticipates its electric-powered stripped chassis to be commercially available in late 2024.


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