San Jose Set To Turn Kids Onto Electric Transport With Zero Emission School Bus

They’re as iconic as a London Black Cab, cost about $17,000 per year in fuel, and are used across the U.S. every week day to carry tens millions of school children to and from school.

Now the classic smelly, uncomfortable bright yellow school bus is about to follow in the tire tracks of cars like the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S — and go all-electric.

It's big and yellow -- but electric, thanks to conversion company Adomani. (Photo: YouTube)

It’s big and yellow — but electric, thanks to conversion company Adomani. (Photo: YouTube)

As Domestic Fuel reports (via Autobloggreen), the California Highway Patrol has just given the green light for the Adomani EV School Bus to be used in place of traditional diesel-fuelled school busses in the Gilroy Unified School District (GUSD) in California.

Unlike most electric cars on the market today, the school bus in question hasn’t always been powered by electric. Instead, it started its life as a regular 2007 50-passenger BlueBird type D diesel school bus. It was then converted by the folks at Adomani into an electric bus, ripping out the old diesel components and installing a 335 kilowatt electric motor for the rear wheels and a heavy-duty, custom-built battery pack in the space usually reserved for luggage on school outings.

The bus was first delivered to the GUSD back in May, and is now fulfilling duties on school routes in the district. The school district has even invested in solar panels at the school bus depot, helping to charge the bus on 100% renewable solar energy. Charging is carried out during down time, via not one but two J1772-equipped chargers located on the bus.

Range can be anything from 40 miles to 100 miles, depending on the requirements of the customer, with a total battery pack size of up to 164 kilowatt-hours.

The second electric bus to be built by Adomani, a company specialising in electric vehicle conversions, conversion was paid for by funds from a local Californian clean air project and if successful, could bring about further conversions in the future.

Batteries are stored underneath the floor. (Photo: YouTube)

Batteries are stored underneath the floor. (Photo: YouTube)

That’s something that Adomani hopes will happen. With a conversion kit now designed for the BlueBird type D, the company says it can now convert busses from diesel to electric in double-quick time, making it easy for districts to take their existing vehicles and convert them to electric during school vacation time.

To make the process even quicker, Adomani is set to move its base of operations from Florida to California, meaning Californian school buses won’t have to travel across the U.S. just to get upgraded. That said, Adomani is keen to reiterate that it’s willing to retrofit busses wherever they happen to be, as well as continue to offer its other electric and plug-in hybrid conversion kit for everything from a Ford Mustang to an F-150 pickup truck.

As Electragirl found out in her column earlier this week, electric busses are becoming a common sight on popular city routes in certain cities around the world. So why not the school run too?

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  • Esl1999 .

    LA city buses have been running on CNG for years. It will be interesting to see the uptake for this bus for the CA school districts. Blue Bird? Wasn’t that that the opera singer in the Fifth Element?

  • Dennis Pascual

    Interesting tidbit… Gilroy is also the location to one of the first Superchargers for Tesla.

  • Ronaele33

    Electragirl really knows her stuff. Very good article and very accurate information. Adomani is also known to use all of the OEM parts including the old OEM gas pedal but ADOMANI always deletes the diesel engine and the diesel fuel tank.

  • Not only will they be saving thousands a year in fuel costs, this is a great way to teach young children early on about renewable energy. Gilroy is just south of San Jose, one of the most energy-conscious and fastest-growing renewable energy cities, so not surprising that they are taking this project on. EV’s are a massively growing industry and often paired with an offset by solar. In the residential market, an EV and solar go hand-in-hand.