Daimler-owned Thomas Built Buses has begun supplying fully-electric versions of the famous black and yellow American school bus.
The first 50 examples of the ‘Jouley’ have been delivered in Virginia. A further 1,000 of these buses have been ordered in an initiative backed by Virginia-based power company Dominion Energy. That’s the largest order to date for electric school buses in the USA.
The bus has been developed in collaboration with California company Proterra. The battery has a total power capacity of 220kWh – just over double that of a top-end Tesla Model S – and has a theoretical range of 134 miles. These buses are also the only of their kind to feature DC fast charging as standard.
So how quickly can an electric school bus be charged? If the 60kW fast charging system is used, it’ll juice up in around three hours. That leaves plenty of time in between the morning drop-off and the afternoon pick-up for buses to be prepared for their second shift of the day.
Interestingly, these buses are also equipped with vehicle-to-grid technology, allowing them to supply power back into the power grid.
How can you tell the difference between the new electric bus and its diesel predecessor? Well, if it’s running, you’ll clock on even with your eyes closed. There will be no diesel chunter or clatter – and no smell of fumes. To look at, the differences are subtle. Pictured above is an older, more traditional American school bus.
There’s blue LED lighting in the grille to mark it out, while ‘Jouley’ is plastered down the side. It still has the silhouette of the familiar American school bus, right down to the long snout where you might ordinarily find an engine.