Ford and Collins share specs for E-transit electric school bus, orders open today

The E-Transit Type A school bus, which Ford showcased back in March, is now available for order from Collins Bus Corporation, one of the leading US school bus manufacturers.

The E-Transit is currently the leader of the US electric van market, with about 60% of last year’s EV van sales. But the E-Transit isn’t just a cargo van; you can also buy it as a cutaway chassis which can then be upfitted with various containers on the back, depending on what niche you want the vehicle to fill.

Collins is a bus manufacturer that Ford has worked with to fill that niche with a traditional yellow American school bus on Ford’s all-electric chassis.

The bus is a “Type A,” which is the smallest type of school bus, typically built on a cutaway van chassis – like that of the E-transit. “Type C” is the stereotypical purpose-built long, yellow bus that most often comes to mind when thinking of school buses.

The E-Transit school bus will be able to hold a dozen seated passengers or eight seated passengers and two wheelchairs in an alternate floor plan.

It maintains the 68 kWh capacity of the E-Transit van, which is good for about 100 miles of range after upfitting the vehicle through Collins. The plain cargo E-Transit gets 126 miles of range, according to Ford, but 100 should be more than enough for most school buses and their short daily routes.

Collins is not the only manufacturer who will use Ford’s school bus package, but Ford wanted to highlight Collins since the two had worked together on the original demo vehicle shown back in March.

Ford also shared some additional specs of its School Bus Prep Package with us:

Ford’s Type A School Bus Prep Package is offered on E-Transit T-350 low roof extended 178” single-rear-wheel cutaway and includes these features to adhere with school bus chassis compliance requirements:

  • Safety Glass (65B) 
  • Right Hand Door Delete (60X)
  • Dual AGM Batteries (63E) 
  • Separate Stop Turn Tail Lamp – LED Enabled (43Q)
  • Auxiliary Fuse Panel with High Spec Interface Connector (87E)
  • Dual-note Horn (85D)
  • Modified Vehicle Wiring System (53K)

Other specs unique to this offering include: 

  • Pro Power Onboard
  • Twin-I-Beam front suspension
  • Tilt Steering
  • TorqShift® five-speed automatic overdrive transmission
  • Front stabilizer bar with HD front and rear shock

Notably, the bus has Ford’s Pro Power Onboard, which is the company’s branding for its bidirectional charging feature. This enables some interesting use cases for school buses, which spend so much of each day parked.

We recently saw a Canadian town using Lion Electric school buses to keep warm during emergencies, so the E-Transit school bus could potentially do something similar (though its battery is 2-3x smaller than the LionC’s, which is a much larger and more expensive Type C bus). And its dual AGM batteries will help power auxiliary climate controls in cold or hot weather.

More practically, bidirectional charging can also be used for grid resiliency or to offset dirty energy in the grid during peak hours, which are interesting possible use cases for school districts (and sometimes, they can be used to make money, too, through energy arbitrage at different times of day).

Pricing is based on the cost of a Ford E-Transit cutaway plus additional upfit costs from the distributor. The cutaway itself starts at $49,575, which is about $9k more than the gas version. But that’s before various EV school bus incentives and the Clean School Bus program, which can make these incredibly cheap for districts.

This is a big difference from other electric school buses, which can cost three times as much as their gas counterparts.

The bus is available for order now, and you can contact your local Collins bus dealer for more information.

Electrek’s Take

We love seeing the electrification of government vehicles like this – buses, garbage trucks, mail delivery vehicles, etc.

Oftentimes, the duty cycle for these vehicles is perfect for electrification. They do short, predefined routes every day. They stop and start a lot. They drive through residential communities where noise and air pollution are even less desirable than everywhere else. And they need to be reliable. Electrification is a perfect solution.

For school buses, it’s even more important because young kids ride in them, and having better air quality is extra important to young lungs. Air pollution from vehicles is a major contributor to childhood asthma, so getting our kids away from dirty diesel buses is of paramount importance.

People seem to really love electric school buses, which is why they’ve been taking off around the US. In just the last six months, the number of committed electric school bus purchases in the US has almost doubled. And that number will probably go even higher after California’s new electric truck rule, which was implemented last week.

We’ll get a chance to look at Ford’s electric school bus this week at ACT Expo, the industry’s largest advanced truck expo, going on from May 1-4 in Anaheim.