School buses, which transport some 25 million students each weekday, are a massive transit system prime for a tech upgrade. And it’s starting to get one. Thomas Built Buses, a North American subsidiary of German automaker Daimler, just announced that it will debut an all-electric version of its iconic yellow school buses in the U.S. in 2019.
Unveiled at the National Association of Pupil Transportation’s annual summit in Columbus, Ohio, last week, the SAF-T-liner C2—nicknamed Jouley—uses Daimler’s 160-kWh battery, which has about an 100-mile range per charge; additional battery packs can extend that range. The Jouley bus can transport up to 81 students at a time.
Recent research has suggested that navigating away from diesel can have sizable benefits, ranging from the environmental to the financial. In a study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, a test fleet of 101 buses saved up to 50 percent on fuel costs while eliminating 770 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually after switching from industry-standard diesel to propane. Another study by the University of Delaware found that switching to electric buses would save a school district roughly $230,000 per bus over its lifetime.