Micro Bird – a joint venture between Blue Bird and Girardin, a Quebec-based school bus distributor – has secured a 70% stake in Ecotuned, a maker of electric powertrains. And its focus is on more than buses alone.
While Ecotuned electrifies the Micro Bird G5 bus and retrofits pickup trucks originally designed to run on internal combustion engines, the business is also exploring how the electric powertrain could support Classes 3-7 commercial vehicles.
“There are talks right now with people to expand Blue Bird’s presence in niches other than the bus,” Girardin chairman Steve Girardin told Transport Routier.
“Over the years, Micro Bird has evaluated many up-and-coming [electric vehicle] companies and found in Ecotuned a more optimized, efficient and technologically advanced solution that is faster to install, due to its patented cradle system,” he said in a related press release on the joint venture.
Production will initially be based at Micro Bird’s facility in Drummondville, Que., which employs more than 500 people and assembles about 3,000 vehicles per year.
The Ecotuned powertrain incorporates a proprietary two-speed electric vehicle transmission, battery management systems, and the algorithms the company says allows for a smaller electric motor, fewer batteries, and larger payload. It comes standard with Level 2 and 3 charging, and can support V2G.
“At the moment, Ecotuned specializes in conversion, but we are looking at the game plan to move towards manufacturing,” Girardin added in the interview.
“This acquisition reinforces our leadership in the EV school bus market while positioning Micro Bird and Blue Bird for significant growth,” said Blue Bird CEO Phil Horlock.
“We look forward to working even more together, and seeing Ecotuned reach its full potential,” added Ecotuned founder Andy Ta.
Ecotuned has been a Micro Bird supplier for five years.