Commercial Vehicles

Blue Bird expands into class 5-6 commercial vehicles


The US bus maker Blue Bird is expanding its range of electric vehicles to serve the commercial vehicle market. At the Advanced Clean Transportation expo (ACT) the company unveiled an electric Class 5-6 custom chassis developed in cooperation with Lightning eMotors.

The fully-electric commercial vehicle chassis should enable a range of different fully-electric vehicles including last-mile delivery step vans, motorhomes, and other speciality vehicles.

The Blue Bird electric vehicle chassis has a modular design that allows for several battery configurations from 70kWh to 225kWh. This is enough to support a range of up to 175 miles (282 kilometres). Blue Bird says the battery packs can take between one and twelve hours to fully recharge, which is of course dependent on the power level of the available charging infrastructure.

The chassis was designed to enable a maximum payload without compromising safety or stability by means of using lightweight materials and components. With three different possible wheelbase sizes, the chassis can accommodate a gross vehicle weight rating (GWD) of up to 26,000 pounds (nearly 11,800 kilograms).

Other features of the new electric vehicle chassis are what the company says is the best turn radius to date for the best-possible manoeuvrability in inner-city environments. Other features are a “hill hold” function and an “electric creep” that is supposed to simulate the forward movement of a combustion engine vehicle in gear when the driver’s foot is removed from the brake pedal.

Blue Bird is well known for its electric school buses in the USA. Development partner  Lightning eMotors has been taking the zero-emission commercial vehicle market by storm with electric retrofitted vehicles followed by a rapidly expanding range of vehicles and components. Lightning eMotors has now expanded into UK markets and has a record of successful collaborations with numerous vehicle partners and customers.

“We are ecstatic that Blue Bird chose us to be their powertrain partner for their debut into the commercial chassis market,” said 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”


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