The 18th Annual STN EXPO Trade Show started off with a bang Tuesday as Blue Bird was joined by partners Ford and ROUSH CleanTech to display the latest Type C conventional Vision school bus powered by propane autogas and a bigger, faster 6.8L V-10 engine.
School Transportation News reported that Blue Bird said the next-generation Vision offers increased horsepower and torque compared to the previous model that runs on a V-8 engine. The new Vision also promises better fuel economy, a smoother ride, an enhanced engine platform that includes three valves instead of two, and a five-year limited warranty on the engine, fuel system and transmission.
“What ROUSH brought to us was the entire propane system,” said Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “This is a great move for us.”
George Weber, president and CEO of Ford component sales, added that the Vision is a product of an exclusive relationship with Blue Bird. In separate news, he said the 6.8L V-10 engine will also be available in the F-650 next year.
Horlock said the latest propane Vision will be making the rounds throughout the nationwide dealer network over the next six months, starting with A-Z Bus Sales, Inc., in Southern California.
Todd Mouw, vice president of sales and marketing at ROUSH CleanTech, said propane is the best available alternative-fuel option not only for the school bus industry but across the automotive sector. He also said the cost of propane is about $2 per gallon cheaper than diesel, results in reduced emissions and is a domestic product. Mouw added that the U.S. exports 2 billion gallons of propane each year.
As for an increased cost of “a few thousand dollars” over a conventional diesel Vision school bus, Horlock said operators need to calculate the lifetime costs of the vehicle over 10 to 20 years in addition to the reduced cost of propane versus diesel when making purchasing decisions.