Coming Soon in VA: Electric Yellow School Buses

Why Franchised Truck & Bus Dealers Should Care

They say it’s the largest order for electric school buses, ever. Thomas Built Buses is set to deliver the first 50 fully electric versions of the traditional yellow school buses in Richmond, Virginia, by the end of this year. Chances are, this isn’t the last electric fleet purchase we’ll see this year, either. We wanted to explore this headline further and speak to how franchise truck and bus dealers, as well as the typical light truck/car franchise dealers, can get in on this actionable trend.

Iconic Yellow Buses Steering Away from Diesel

Thomas Built Buses is the only manufacturer right now offering DC fast charging as a standard equipment feature. The electric battery technology in use for the Jouley is the result of collaboration with the California company, Proterra. The battery will offer a power capacity of 220kWh and an average range of 134 miles. It’s designed to be fully charged in about three hours. The Proterra 60kW fast-charging system is an option that, when properly equipped, will even flow power back to the power grid itself (Vehicle to Grid Technology).

Buses Are Going Green Elsewhere, Too

While this headline is specific to sixteen school districts in Virginia, we found other similar announcements and plans for green school bus efforts elsewhere, too. Initiatives are being launched in Maine as part of the state’s efforts to combat greenhouse gas emissions. A bill is already in the Legislature, requesting assistance from the Department of Education to help transform 3000 school buses into electric buses by 2040. If passed, the transition and allocation of funds would begin this year. For Maine, transportation is the most significant greenhouse gas contributor, accounting for more than half its total.

How Can Schools Afford It?

Dominion Energy is helping out. The energy company Chief announced late last summer, they play a significant role in offsetting some of the costs of production. One of the largest obstacles for the fleet of electric school buses is the expense of producing, powering, and replacing units. There are added costs associated with the installation of charging equipment, as well. Knowing schools and municipalities can’t absorb those entirely, Dominion Energy initiated plans to assist in transitioning 1,050 school buses from diesel to electric by the end of 2020. In the instances of other markets pursuing electric bus fleets, they’re also leveraging grants, non-profit donations, and assistance from other utility companies looking to make a green difference.

What Can Fleet Franchises Be Doing Now?

While the electric school bus movement is coming, and some municipalities are getting help from utility companies, it’s not an overnight transition everywhere. What fleet franchises can do now is watch and prepare for changes and green adoption at the local market level. Follow your state’s green initiatives, as it relates to emissions and guidelines. Leveraging your dealership’s ability to funnel any future electric yellow buses, will depend entirely on your ability to be ready for it when it’s time. In higher transportation markets and the larger metropolitan areas with existing emissions requirements for vehicles, the EV bus may be happening sooner than later for your neck of the woods.

Consider staying on top of the green efforts in your markets. Electric yellow school buses are happening and may be the first of many municipality transitions to come. Participating and supporting dealers can stay ahead of the curve and get in on the green action if they’re prepared when the time comes.