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Electric school buses will shuttle kids to class in Virginia

Daimler's Thomas Built Buses subsidiary will deliver the first of many electric school buses in the state of Virginia later this year.

Thomas Jouley electric school bus
Now the kids' voices will be even louder without the sound of an engine to cover them up.

For decades, buses, both public and school, have trained our ears to pick them out. The clattering from the big diesel engines is something that's hard to miss. That's about to become a whole lot different in Virginia.

Daimler subsidiary Thomas Built Buses announced on Tuesday that's it's receive the honor of delivering the first 50 electric school buses to Virginia. The state plans to replace 1,050 of its diesel-fueled buses with electric units in the same traditional yellow and black hues. In fact, the electric buses look a lot like traditional buses, but they sure don't sound like them.

The Jouley, as the electric school bus is called, features a 220-kilowatt-hour battery to supply power for an estimated 134 miles of range. Thomas says it's the only electric bus on sale that provides DC fast charging -- something likely appreciated since these vehicles are operating five days a week at a minimum for numerous miles. It takes about 3 hours to fully charge one of these big yellow machines with a DC fast charger.

When the Jouley debuted back in 2017, Thomas showed the bus off with 100-160 kWh battery pack, but mentioned a larger batter pack option. The mentioned 220 kWh pack will be the only option for now, Daimler told Roadshow. It's already a larger battery pack than the "concept" bus shown years ago.

Production of the Jouley starts in the second quarter of this year, and not long after that, the 50 buses will hit the road. In the meantime, the wheels on the bus are about to go round and round via electric motors, no matter what, at least in Virginia.

Originally published Jan. 22.
Update, Jan. 27: Adds more information from Daimler.