What is Electric School Bus Repowering?

29.03.23 09:11 PM Comment(s) By Rebecca Hisiger

An attractive solution for schools looking to go green now

Did you know that school boards can buy or repower electric vehicles? 

Due to high demand and recent supply chain issues, some electric school bus manufacturers have expressed multi-year long wait times for new vehicles. We decided to write this blog post to share information about a solution to this problem that is sometimes overlooked: it’s called electric school bus repowering

Repowering: An Established Practice

Electric school bus repowering involves replacing an old bus’s regular gas engine with an electric drive system. This may seem like a new concept, but it’s actually been around for several years. Before electric vehicles were common, many companies converted diesel vehicles to electric with excellent results. Repowering has shown to be a reliable option that is perfect for school districts ready to electrify today but are not able to get inventory of new electric school buses. 

To Electrify or not to Electrify

Electric school bus repowering has a lot of benefits. Not only is it better for the environment and the health of students and their communities, but it actually helps schools save money too. Repowered buses have a significantly lower initial cost compared to buying brand new electric buses - between $110,000 to $180,000 vs. $300,000, respectively.  Plus, since electric vehicles require less maintenance than gas-powered ones, schools can save money on maintenance costs in the long run. The repowering process can also be done on existing buses, so schools won't need to buy as many new ones - which means even more cost savings.

Repowering is not a Compromise

Repowering buses not only saves schools money, but it can also save them time. Right now, global supply chain issues are slowing down the production of new electric school buses, which means there aren't enough of them to meet the demand and schools are left waiting a long time. Since repowering requires fewer parts, it bypasses some of those supply chain hurdles and speeds up the process. That means schools don't have to wait as long to electrify their bus fleets, which in turn helps them meet their emissions reduction goals more quickly. So not only is repowering a cost-effective option, but it's also a practical way to get electric buses on the road faster. 

Schools Get Help Sooner

More state incentive programs like in California and New York are also starting to offer funding for repowered school buses. This is great news for school districts because it helps them further cut down on overall fleet electrification costs. Additionally, due to those delays with new electric bus production, schools can choose repowering instead and apply for the incentive programs sooner. Funding support from these programs will allow more schools to start enjoying the benefits of going electric without having to wait. 

All in all, electric school bus repowering is a fast, low-risk option that helps cut down on emissions and saves money on operating costs. And to top it off, it's a great solution for school districts right now, especially given the supply chain issues we're currently dealing with.

Rebecca Hisiger

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