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New All-Electric School Bus on the Way

Thomas Built has introduced its first all-electric school bus, set to begin production in 2019.

Ahhh, the big yellow school bus. The good old days. The bus driver with the five o’clock shadow who reeked of Kool cigarettes and Brut cologne. Torn seats with phallic images and the elementary-school level graffiti “S” scribbled all over them. And don’t forget the pungent stench of diesel as the noxious fumes spilled into the cabin while Ol’ Yellow idled, letting a fresh round of juvenile delinquents on for the ride.

Some of that is about to change as Thomas Built Buses just introduced its first all-electric school bus series. Starting production in 2019, the Saf-T-Liner C2 Electric Bus will be coming to a street side near you. The Saf-T-Liner C2, known as the “Jouley” for short, has a capacity of 81 kids. Being electric of course, it’s quiet and emission-free. It sports a 160kWh battery with a range of up to 160 kilometers, or 100 miles. The company will offer additional battery packs for routes which require a higher range. Not sure if it will get them close to the world record 1,100-mile trek but any improvement would be a plus.

Among the many features of the new bus is the PowerDrive 7000ev powertrain from Efficient Drivetrains to go along with the PowerSuite vehicle control software and PowerTracker telematics and diagnostic system. The PowerTracker not only tracks the bus’s location but also provides real-time monitoring of potential issues.

Thomas Built Saf-T-Liner C2 Electric Bus named Jouley, Daimler AG

Speaking on the announcement, Caley Edgerly, President and CEO of Thomas Built Buses explained that Jouley is named after the joule unit of energy. A joule is equivalent to the amount of energy that is dissipated as heat when an electric current of one ampere passes through a resistance of one ohm for one second.

So we are having fun with Jouley,” Later, Edgerly added, “We are pleased to debut the first generation Saf-T-Liner C2 Electric School Bus. Continuous improvement and innovation are core to both Thomas Built Buses and Daimler and we are excited to explore additional enhancements and features that can be leveraged with this new electric powertrain.”

That big yellow school bus has come a long way since I was bouncing in the back seat with the rest of the bad kids. What’s next for school buses? Seatbelts? Working windows? Fresh air?