In the coming years, in the U.S. at least, there is an increasing chance children will be getting to and from school on a fully-electric bus.
There’s been another big step towards that being realized with a new deal between Pegasus Specialty Vehicles and the largest bus dealership in the U.S., Creative Bus Sales.
The deal was announced at the recent Advanced Clean Transportation Expo (ACT) in California.
It will see Pegasus build Type A school buses and electric shuttle and paratransit buses using the Zeus Electric Chassis Power Platform to deliver what it says will be categorically different from traditional gas or diesel conversions.
The ground-up design of the Zeus Z-19 cab-chassis is purpose-built and optimized for bus body installation and system integration.
The deal with Creative Bus Sales enables all three companies to capture sales and win a portion of the abundant federal and state grant money incentivizing rapid electric-bus adoption.
With Creative Bus Sales’ nationwide distribution footprint and deep market penetration, coupled with the unique BEV offering from Pegasus and Zeus, the organizations are well-positioned to compete.
“We’re very excited to take on the Pegasus product line and the timing couldn’t be better,” – Jason Hohalok, sales manager for California for Creative Bus Sales.
“Our customers have been looking for new and better solutions, and the Pegasus Type A school buses and electric shuttle and paratransit bus bodies on the Zeus Electric Chassis provide us with exactly that.”
With all-wheel-drive, independent suspension and a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of up to 19,500 pounds, a Pegasus Bus on a Zeus Z-19 Power Platform is different from other vehicles in the Type A school bus, shuttle and paratransit bus categories.
Its electric motors generate a continuous rated 290 horsepower and 2,040 foot-pounds of torque, enabling it to operate in inclement weather, on challenging topographies and allowing it to transport a payload of up to 8,000 pounds within a standard range of 150 miles.
“Its robust frame rail construction and purpose-built electric chassis makes the Z-19 unique right out of the gate,” – Brian Barrington, president of Pegasus Specialty Vehicles.
“Honestly, those two things alone separate what we’re doing from anything else that’s currently on the market.”
The Zeus chassis offers a purpose-built platform for the Pegasus bus body.
In addition to incorporating an all-electric drive train, the modular battery concept inherent in the Zeus design offers the flexibility needed to fully integrate powering climate systems and power-entry lifts with the chassis systems.
The sturdier build of the Zeus frame rail system, and the resulting market-leading payload, will accommodate larger-sized buses on the same platform.
Barrington was quick to see the advantages of the Zeus design and was one of the first to sign an initial purchase order placed with Zeus for four chasses.
“From our first conversation, I knew that I wanted to put a bus body on the Zeus chassis. Working with Zeus and having a chassis purpose-built to suit our needs is unheard of. Because it’s not a conversion, the Zeus platform is designed to meet the unique requirements of an all-electric design,”
“Being in and around the industry and having a chassis supplier ask us what we want, then building the chassis to meet that, is exactly what we want to do with our buses for our customers.”
Significant funding on both the state and national levels is accelerating the growth of the electric school bus market in the U.S..
A national Bipartisan Infrastructure Law has allocated $5 billion (USD) over five years to replace diesel school buses across the U.S. and U.S. territories.
While states individually manage their VW Beneficiary Mitigation settlement funds, most include a significant opportunity for electric bus grants.
The agreement with Creative Bus Sales provides a national dealership base for Pegasus and allows the company to leverage its extensive service network and long-established expertise in the bus market.
“We think the Pegasus/Zeus combination will provide an exciting alternative in the school bus market, and in the shuttle and commercial market as well,” said Hohalok.
“We have shown the initial look of the Zeus/Pegasus bus and the overwhelming response from customers is ‘When can I get one?’”