This spring, Georgia-based bus manufacturer Blue Bird Corp. will begin production of its propane- and gasoline-powered Vision school buses using an all-new 7.3-liter V-8 engine from Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn and a purpose-built fuel system designed specifically for school-bus applications by Roush CleanTech in Livonia.
Roush CleanTech has manufactured more than 30,000 propane and gasoline fuel systems for Blue Bird buses equipped with Ford’s 6.8-liter engine.
The 2022 Blue Bird Vision with the Ford 7.3-liter engine that can run on either propane or gasoline features what the company describes as “best-in-class combination of horsepower and torque.” In addition, the compact and lighter-weight 7.3-liter engine should achieve improved fuel economy over the 6.8-liter powerplant.
“The exclusive partnership between Blue Bird, Roush CleanTech, and Ford continues to flourish as we launch Ford’s new engine with cutting-edge fuel systems in our Vision and Micro Bird school buses,” says Phil Horlock, president and CEO of Blue Bird. “We’ve already heard excitement from our customers about this compact, more-powerful and easier-to-maintain engine with better fuel economy.”
In addition to the all-new engine, the new propane and gasoline Visions incorporate newly engineered routing of the wiring and fuel lines, centered between the frame rails for improved quality, simplicity of maintenance, and product longevity, according to the company. A newly designed grille also brings a fresh face to a familiar brand.
Ford’s new 350-horsepower 7.3-liter engine is narrower than the previous 6.8-liter, allowing more room for service work. Innovations for the fuel system, known as Gen 5, include stronger and lighter forged fuel rails and unique routing that keeps the engine-fuel distribution well organized. The system is designed to benefit from all of Ford’s performance and quality characteristics, such as horsepower, torque, and towing, while maintaining the OEM factory warranty.
“Backed by 45 years of Roush engineering, the Gen 5 is the next advancement in powertrain technology, delivering lots of power in a smaller package,” says Todd Mouw, president of Roush CleanTech. “Our advanced fuel system integrates seamlessly with the new Ford engine to give school bus customers the most cost-effective product on the market.”
Roush CleanTech’s Gen 5 propane engine is certified to California Air Resources Board’s optional low nitrogen oxide emissions standard of 0.05 grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr). The Gen 5 system reduces nitrogen oxides and greenhouse gas emissions, which helps optimize fuel efficiency, and can operate on renewable propane, which further reduces emissions and carbon levels. The engine is designed to meet current and future emissions requirements.