American bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation has reportedly offered an industry-first, factory-certified electric repower program for some of its propane and gasoline-fueled school buses.

As part of the program, the company has collaborated with zero-emission-vehicle solutions provider Lightning eMotors, to jointly develop the repower EV powertrain system.

Customers of the bus maker will be able to ‘future-proof’ their fleets by buying fossil fuel-powered vehicles that can be easily and cost-effectively converted to electric buses.

The repower program will begin in 2023 for those Blue Bird Vision Type C propane and gasoline-powered school buses built post-September 2021. The powertrain system will offer similar performance and safety standards that are expected from OEM-built electric vehicles.

With the electric powertrain system, many battery configurations ranging between 100-225kWh will be able to support an estimated vehicle range of up to 150 miles on a single charge, as per the battery configuration.

The conversion process for gas and propane-powered school buses to a new electric Blue Bird bus will be carried out according to the OEM safety and quality standards, at the authorized conversion centers of Blue Bird and Lightning eMotors in the USA and Canada.

The new bus will be retaining its original warranties after the conversion, testing, and certification, and the EV powertrain will come with a new OEM warranty. The process will be completed in 30 days from the delivery of the vehicle to the center.

Britton Smith, Chief Strategy Officer and Senior VP of Electrification, Blue Bird, said that more and more states are making the purchase of zero-emission school buses mandatory from 2027 so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put the health of students and the community first.

According to Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors, repowering school buses is a good solution for fleets not having a charging infrastructure right now but have to buy new vehicles, as they can be transformed into zero-emissions in the future. 

With the company’s innovative repower program, customers will be able to invest in new school buses and fulfill their current transportation requirements with a built-in EV zero-emission transition option.

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