Blue Bird Corp. has debuted a new Class 5-6 electric vehicle platform that fits a broad range of fully electric vehicles (EV), including last-mile delivery step vans, motorhomes and other specialty vehicles.
Due to its modular design, the Blue Bird EV chassis allows for several battery configurations from 70 kWh to 225 kWh supporting a vehicle range of up to 175 miles on a single charge. The battery packs take between one and 12 hours to fully recharge depending on the charging infrastructure.
In addition, Blue Bird offers its Class 5-6 chassis with three wheelbase options of 178”, 190” and 208” for vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 26,000 pounds. The company utilizes lightweight materials and components for its vehicle platform, thereby maximizing vehicle payload without compromising on vehicle safety.
Blue Bird offers several safety features on its EV chassis not standard on comparable EVs to enhance driver protection and familiarity. This includes “hill hold,” which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward 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 custom chassis provides good turn radius, maximizing vehicle maneuverability in tight urban settings.
“For nearly a century, Blue Bird has perfected its core capabilities of designing, engineering and manufacturing school buses from the ground up,” says Matthew Stevenson, president and CEO of Blue Bird Corp. “Now we will apply our world-class chassis-building expertise to expand our electric-powered product range to the commercial vehicle space, thereby, nearly doubling our total addressable market. Blue Bird’s unique and modular vehicle platform is an industry gamechanger for zero-emission mobility.”
Blue Bird teamed up with Lightning eMotors, a Colorado-based manufacturer of electric powertrains and complete zero-emission vehicle solutions, to build the prototype of the Class 5-6 custom chassis.
“We are ecstatic that Blue Bird chose us to be their powertrain partner for their debut into the commercial chassis market,” comments Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “Blue Bird’s reputation for quality and safety is well deserved, and we believe they will disrupt the market. We are also excited about the innovation they are bringing to the school bus market and look forward to deepening our partnership going forward.”
Blue Bird plans to launch production of its Class 5-6 EV chassis in late 2023 at its manufacturing facility in Fort Valley, Ga.