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Some Wisconsin, Ohio students to get hybrid buses

IC Bus plans to provide 16 hybrid-electric buses to be used by several school districts, and anticipates other states will place orders in coming year.

IC Bus' CE Series hybrid school bus. Navistar

IC Bus, one of the largest school bus manufacturers in the U.S., has been commissioned to build 16 hybrid-electric school buses to be used by some Wisconsin and Ohio school districts.

The Illinois-based company is a subsidiary of international truck manufacturer Navistar, which has also unveiled a series of hybrid and all-electric vehicles for the trucking industry. In August 2009, Navistar received a $39 million federal grant to develop and manufacture all-electric vehicles in Elkhart County, Ind.

The CE Series hybrid yellow bus has an electric drivetrain from Enova Systems and an electric-power propulsion system from Valence Technology. It has regenerative braking, and is offered as a plug-in hybrid or a gas-electric hybrid without the plug-in option. IC Bus estimates its hybrid bus offers 65 percent better fuel economy and a reduction of 39 percent emissions compared to the average diesel school bus.

The bus order was made possible through grant programs from the U.S. government, according to Enova.

In addition to the U.S. Department of Energy's Clean School Bus USA program, federal and state governments are offering a variety of grant options and tax credits for school districts to retrofit school buses or replace them with entirely new models in an effort to offer cleaner transportation to America's young lungs.

Because of the grants, more orders for hybrid buses for school districts across the country are expected to be placed, despite struggling school budgets.

"Several states and school districts have expressed interest in expanding their hybrid school bus fleets. This interest should continue to grow as more tax credits and incentives become available to ease the transition to hybrid school buses," Enova said in a statement.