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The next- generation, propane-autogas Blue Bird Vision rolled out to rave reviews in several states, with an estimated 500 new school buses being delivered by this month.


A New Vision


Reinventing Blue Bird’s Next-Generation Propane Vision from the drawing board to final certification


By Michelle Fisher Every new product starts with a vision. Next comes a sketch


of what the manufacturer wants to create and to bring to mar- ket. For a new alternative-fuel school bus, this blueprint is the first step in a lengthy process that involves prototype building, testing, data gathering, reporting and multiple certifications. Joe Tompson, president of ROUSH CleanTech in Livonia,


Mich., said this process took about two years for the next- generation, propane-autogas Blue Bird Vision that went into production earlier this year. “When you talk about reinventing and redesigning and


retesting to make a product better, whether you’re Apple or ROUSH, it requires so many functional disciplines to be hum- ming at the same pace. It took us 18 to 24 months to go from a blank sheet of paper to product into the marketplace,” Tomp- son recalled. “In this case, Blue Bird had an absolute vision of what the product should be capable of doing, the range it is capable of delivering and the price point they need it at.” Te first shipment of the redesigned Vision school buses


went out in February, and Tompson estimated that 500 would be delivered by this month, just in time for the new school year. He credits this success to an exclusive agreement. “Ford only sells the (6.8 liter V-10 gasoline) engine to Blue


Bird, ROUSH develops applications for Blue Bird and Blue Bird is knocking it out of the park with their sales and marketing,” said Tompson. Early on in the concept and R&D process, the companies also


The leak testing chamber in ROUSH CleanTech’s on-site testing facility is one of many “checks” done to ensure the safety and reliability of the new Vision school bus.


44 School Transportation News Magazine August 2012


worked with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), a research and advocacy organization tied to the National Pro- pane Gas Association (NPGA) and Gas Processors Association.


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