This spring, Blue Bird Corp., an independent designer and manufacturer of school buses, says it will begin production of its propane and gasoline Vision school buses integrating Ford’s all-new 7.3 L V8 engine and a purpose-built fuel system designed specifically for school bus application.
The fuel system technology was developed by ROUSH CleanTech, the same company that has manufactured over 30,000 propane and gasoline fuel systems for Blue Bird buses equipped with Ford’s 6.8 L engine. Blue Bird says the 2022 Vision with the propane and gasoline 7.3 L engine features the best-in-class combination of horsepower and torque. In addition, the company notes the compact and lighter-weight 7.3 L engine should achieve improved fuel economy over the 6.8 L engine.
“The exclusive partnership between Blue Bird, ROUSH CleanTech and Ford continues as we launch Ford’s new engine in our Vision and Micro Bird school buses,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “We’ve already heard excitement from our customers about this compact, more powerful and easier-to-maintain engine with better fuel economy.”
In addition to the all-new engine, the new propane and gasoline Vision incorporates newly engineered routing of the wiring and fuel lines – centered between the frame rails – for improved quality, simplicity of maintenance and product longevity.
Ford’s new 350 hp 7.3 L engine is narrower than the previous 6.8 L, allowing more room for service work. Innovations for the fuel system, known as Gen 5, include stronger and lighter forged fuel rails and proprietary routing that keeps the engine-fuel distribution well organized. The system benefits from all of Ford’s performance and quality characteristics, such as horsepower, torque and towing, while maintaining the OEM factory warranty.
ROUSH CleanTech’s Gen 5 propane engine is certified to California Air Resources Board’s optional low nitrogen oxide emissions standard of 0.05 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr). The Gen 5 system reduces nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gas emissions – which helps optimize fuel efficiency – and can operate on renewable propane, which further reduces emissions and carbon levels. The engine is designed to meet current and future emissions requirements.
Orders are now being taken for Blue Bird’s Vision school buses with Gen 5 fuel systems.
Photo: ROUSH CleanTech’s Gen 5 propane engine