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Blue Bird Gearing Up To Meet the Growing Demand for Electric Buses

15 Dec Blue Bird Gearing Up To Meet the Growing Demand for Electric Buses

Blue Bird Corporation (NASDAQ: BLBD), a leading manufacturer of electric school buses, announced the delivery of its 300th bus to the Northeast coast of the U.S, cementing its position as the Number One Electric Bus Company in the U.S. The Company is meeting the challenges posed by a colder climate of the coast head on, by equipping its buses to overcome battery charging issues, providing improved battery insulation and their standard CCS1 connector that enables AC as well as DC charging.

Electric buses not only prevent the emission of green house gases through zero emission but also help schools gain from lower costs of operation, maintenance and various grants and incentives provided by the government. The Company has an extensive dealer network that can facilitate schools to make optimal use of the funding, infrastructure, and training.

David Bercik, senior vice president of Sales and Marketing, commented

“Blue Bird is honored to have received its 300th electric bus order in November, confirming our position as the #1 EV school bus manufacturer in the United States. Based on the interest level in Blue Bird electric buses from school districts, we expect the sales pace to increase in the future. While the pandemic has impacted the industry, the Blue Bird team is focused on maintaining our delivery commitments to each and every customer.”

The Company has witnessed more than 250 percent growth in the sales of its electric school buses in the fiscal year 2020, as compared to last year, and to cope with the increasing demand in the U.S and Canada, it is ramping up the production of its buses to 1,000 units annually. Blue Bird is capitalizing on the rising demand for alternate power solutions, and will successfully deliver nearly 300 buses on the road by end of 2020.

Blue Bird (NASDAQ: BLBD)

Market Cap: $441.97M; Current Share Price: 16.40 USDChart
Data by YCharts

The International Energy Agency predicts that the Electronic Vehicles which stand at 3 million today will grow to 125 million by 2030. The Global Electric Vehicle market is all set to compete with the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in the next five year, accounting for one out of every five cars sold by 2030, according to Seth Goldstein, an analyst and chair of Morningstar’s electric vehicle committee. The growth of this industry is a result of the initiatives by governments around the world, in the form of tax rebates, grants, and subsidies for adoption of renewable and more environment friendly options for transportation. Unlike conventional vehicle which can only replenish their fuel at specific public locations, Electric vehicles can be charged at home or commercial charging stations.

However, the limitation of sufficient charging capacity to cover long distances discourages the use of these vehicles. There is an increased focus on research and development activities, especially in the passenger car sector, to improve infrastructure and supply equipment and establish EV chargers at easily accessible public places, to allow long distance travel as well. Range anxiety which acts as the biggest impediment for the market at present, will soon be a thing of the past, with Companies racing to develop connectivity modules.

The demand for electric vehicles will also bolster the demand for ancillary industries such as engine components, electronics for propulsion systems, battery optimization and torque transfer devices. In fact the demand for lithium, which is a crucial component of energy storage in transportation batteries, is likely to quadruple over the next decade according to Seth Goldstein.

A report by McKinsey estimates that by 2025, there will be more than 350 EV models introduced into the market, with ranges of 200 miles. However, a lack of charging infrastructure could hamper the growth in the market. The report also highlights the fact that besides price and driving range, lack of access to charging stations is the third most serious barrier to EV. However there have been a gradual decline in prices and improvement in driving range and companies are making a concerted effort to provide the requisite charging infrastructure. Furthermore the total energy demand for electric vehicles in China, United States and European Union alone will reach 280 billion kilowatt-hours by 2030.

Image Source: Mckinsey

There has been an increasing interest in EV’s owing to environmental concerns, which has prompted leading automobile makers such as BMW, Daimler, Ford, and Volkswagen to announce an investment plan for deployment of 400 charging sites across Europe, in addition to investing approximately $90 billion in electric vehicles, according to a report by Reuters.

Blue Bird is a pioneer in the alternative fuel vehicles industry since its inception in 1994. The Company’s Vision and All American RE Electric buses help schools save on fuel as well as maintenance costs. In addition, the schools also benefit from the grants and incentives offered by the authorities for the adoption of alternative fuel vehicles. The electric buses eliminate multiple issues such as engine oil changes, smog testing, air filter changes and transmission replacement and require longer intervals between break pad and coolant changes.

Image Source: Company

The Company’s vehicles offer exceptionally quiet performance, zero emissions and meet stringent safety measures. Furthermore through the Vehicle-to-grid option the energy companies can ”buy-back” additional energy that the buses possess or can choose to charge at off-peak hours when prices are lower. The Cummins PowerDrive™ technology provides integrated telematics control software for lifelong maintenance of the buses. They are equipped with a 155KWH battery that can run up to 120 miles an hour, subject to conditions, and can charge real quickly in just 3 hours with its new fast charging option that uses a CCS1 plug.

Blue Bird vehicles deliver unmatched driver visibility and maneuverability and can be customized to suit specific requirements. Besides the electric options the Company also offers Propane, Gasoline, Diesel and CNG versions. It has exclusive partnerships with Ford and ROUSH CleanTech. The Company has recently partnered with Safety Vision to incorporate Mobileye® a passive collision avoidance solution that has shown to reduce accident related costs and insurance claims by 90%, by using a 360-camera with a collision avoidance system to provide visual alerts such as Forward Collision Warning (FCW), Departure Warning (LDW) and Pedestrian and Cyclist Collision Warning (PCW).

Key Remarks

  • Blue Bird estimates that over 600,000 school buses ply on the road in the US and Canada, however 95 percent of them are diesel-based with an average age of 11 years, the Company sees an addressable market of $150 billion opportunity for electric buses over the next 20 years and intends to maintain its lead with its commitment to providing the widest range of electric buses coupled with its focus on alternative-power solutions. Furthermore the industry has high barriers to entry in form of stringent state and customer requirements and needs a robust relationship driven approach to build a reliable dealer network.
  • The Company faced a series of challenges in the Q3, 2020 owing of COVID-19. Schools have been shutdown since mid-march affecting the demand for its products. Blue Bird had to suspend its production in April for two weeks. It also faced supply disruptions and plant efficiencies due to the closure and still continues to experience a slower order intake. The uncertainty around schools reopening will prove to be a challenge for the Company.
  • Blue Bird is gearing up to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 head on, it has increased the average selling price of its busses since 2019 and successfully transitioned to single shift operations to achieve cost efficiency and improved quality. In addition, it is aiming at a robust mix of alternative fueled-buses, while increasing its production capacity to meet the burgeoning demand.
  • The Company is expectant of a return to normal state that depends on schools resuming their functioning, and sees high demand in the U.S /Canada with over 25 percent of the existing bus fleet being aged more than 15 years or older. Growing environmental concerns have resulted in an increase for demand for alternative fuel vehicles that offer zero emissions and lower maintenance costs, the Company is well equipped to address these demands and create a space for itself in the market.
  • Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

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