Blue Bird Introduces Electric Step Van Prototype

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Electric and low-emission school bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation has introduced its electric-powered step van. The company teamed up with Xos and Morgan Olson to manufacture the prototype.

Blue Bird builds on its nearly century-long expertise in school bus manufacturing to expand its zero-emission transportation solutions to the commercial vehicle market. The last-mile delivery step van and stripped chassis feature a 140 kWh lithium-ion battery. Batteries are mounted inside the frame rails for superior battery protection. The battery pack supports a vehicle range of up to 130 miles on a single charge. It takes between one and 12 hours to fully recharge, depending on the charging infrastructure.

The prototype is based on a 178-inch wheelbase for last-mile-delivery vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 23,000 pounds. The company uses lightweight materials and components for its vehicle platform, maximizing vehicle payload while continuing to prioritize vehicle safety.

Several safety features on Blue Bird’s EV prototype are not standard on comparable EVs. This includes “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 Blue Bird stripped chassis provides a 55-degree wheel cut to improve maneuverability in tight urban settings.

Blue Bird has partnered with Xos, an electric truck manufacturer and fleet electrification services provider from California. The powertrain technology from Xos is a key feature in Blue Bird’s step van. This collaboration also includes Morgan Olson, a Michigan-based builder of work truck bodies, which is responsible for providing the body for the prototype.

“We are honored that Blue Bird has chosen to entrust Xos with the technology to power its electric step van prototype,” says Dakota Semler, CEO of Xos. “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,” adds 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 will be commercially available in late 2024.

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