Josh Fisher | FleetOwner
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Blue Bird debuts electric step van

May 23, 2024
The company teamed up with Xos and Morgan Olson to build a commercial vehicle prototype on a Class 5-6 stripped chassis.

LAS VEGAS—Blue Bird Corporation debuted its electric-powered step van at the 2024 Advanced Clean Transportation Expo. The company teamed up with Xos and Morgan Olson to manufacture the prototype.

Blue Bird builds on its 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 on display feature a 140kWh lithium-ion battery. The 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 twelve hours to fully recharge depending on the charging infrastructure.

Blue Bird’s prototype is based on a 178” wheelbase for last-mile-delivery vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 23,000 pounds. The company utilizes lightweight materials and components for its innovative vehicle platform maximizing vehicle payload while continuing to prioritize vehicle safety.

Blue Bird offers several safety features on its EV prototype, including “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 55-degree, best-in-class wheel cut to improve maneuverability in tight urban settings.

See also: Blue Bird enters crowded CV space with medium-duty EV chassis

“In 2022, Blue Bird introduced its EV commercial chassis concept vehicle at ACT Expo,” said 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 has partnered with Xos, an electric truck manufacturer and fleet electrification services provider from California, offering their expertise gained from deploying hundreds of zero-emissions commercial electric vehicles since 2018. Morgan Olson, a Michigan-based builder of work truck bodies, which is responsible for providing the body for the prototype.

"We at Morgan Olson are looking forward to a productive collaboration with Blue Bird and Xos on the development of this step van prototype," said 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. The company is the only U.S.-owned and operated school bus manufacturer in the United States. In addition, Blue Bird is the number one builder of electric school buses in North America with more than 1,500 zero-emission school buses in operation today.

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FleetOwner Staff

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