A Type-D school bus converted to electric from diesel and outfitted with solar panels received the go-ahead from CHP last week to be pilot tested in Gilroy, California, located about 80 miles southeast of San Francisco.
The 50-passenger, 2007 model-year Blue Bird All American RE was dedicated to Gilroy Unified School District in May. It costs $150,000 to upgrade, said ADOMANI, a green vehicle technology company that specializes in converting gas and diesel fuel systems to all-electric and plug-in hybrid. The converted Type D transit-style bus draws being piloted by Gilroy draws energy from six electric batteries installed in the rear-facing engine compartment that charge from outlets.
ADOMANI and public health advocate Breathe California, which helped fund the project through a Health Trust grant, said the plan is to eventually use solar panels installed on the district's charging station to make the bus a true zero-emissions vehicle.
CHP's approval of the bus on Aug. 18, a day after final inspection, was the final step needed to clear the way for students to ride on board.
"That is by far the fastest I have seen approval come in," said ADOMANI consultant Jim Reynolds, who recently retired as president of school bus dealer A-Z Bus Sales. "I was anticipating a few months of processing."
ADOMANI has converted two Blue Bird school buses to electric. The company said it created a conversion kit specialized for the All American that can be installed in a couple weeks. Ninety percent of the OEM parts are retained, "allowing mechanics to remain familiar with parts like the transmission, compressor, radiator, alternator, etc.," ADOMANI said in a statement.
In related company news, Edward Monfort, the founder and CTO of ADOMANI, announced the plan to move headquarters to California from Florida within the next few months.
"After the conversion for Gilroy, moving to California seemed like the right fit, though we plan to retrofit vehicles throughout the country," he added.