Blue Bird Vision

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Blue Bird Vision
2011 Blue Bird Vision.jpg
2011 Blue Bird Vision
Manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation
Production 2003–present
  • Fort Valley, Georgia
  • LaFayette, Georgia (2003–2010)
Body and chassis
Body style school bus
Layout FR layout
Platform Blue Bird
  • Caterpillar 7.2 L C7 I6 turbodiesel (2004-2009)
  • Cummins 5.9 L ISB5.9 I6 turbodiesel (2004-2006)
  • Cummins 6.7 L ISB6.7 I6 turbodiesel (2006-present)
  • GM 8.1 L Vortec/L18 V8 propane/LPG (2009–2011)
  • Ford 6.8 L Triton V10 (2012-present, propane/LPG; 2016-present, gasoline/CNG) [1]
  • Allison PTS 2500 5-speed automatic (standard)
  • Allison PTS 3000 5-speed automatic (optional)
  • Ford 6R140 6-speed automatic (with Ford V10)[2]
  • 169 in (4,292.6 mm)[2] (36 passenger)
  • 189 in (4,800.6 mm) (48 passenger)
  • 217 in (5,511.8 mm) (54 passenger)
  • 238 in (6,045.2 mm) (60 passenger)
  • 252 in (6,400.8 mm) (66 passenger)
  • 273 in (6,934.2 mm) (72/77 passenger)
  • 280 in (7,112.0 mm) (78 passenger)
Length 309–499 in (7,848.6–12,674.6 mm)[1][2]
Width 96.0 in (2,438.4 mm) [1][2]
Height 122–128 in (3,098.8–3,251.2 mm)[1][2]
Curb weight up to 33,000 lb (14,969 kg) GVWR[1][2]
  • Blue Bird Conventional (Various)
  • Blue Bird CV200 (GM)
  • Blue Bird SBCV (Navistar)

The Blue Bird Vision is a bus that is manufactured and marketed by Blue Bird Corporation in North America and exported worldwide. Built on a proprietary chassis designed and manufactured by the company, the Blue Bird Vision is a conventional-style cowled-chassis bus with various seating configurations and capacities ranging from 36 to 77 passengers. While sold primarily in a school bus configuration, the Vision is also built in various commercial and specialty configurations.

First introduced in 2003, the Vision underwent a major redesign for 2008 model year and an exterior update for the 2015 model year. Coinciding with other alternative-fuel vehicles from the company, the Vision has been available with propane/LPG fuel systems since 2009. In 2016, the Vision will become the first gasoline-fueled school bus in the United States since the discontinuation of its CV200 predecessor in 2003.[3]

The Vision is produced by Blue Bird Corporation in its Fort Valley, Georgia manufacturing facility alongside its Blue Bird All American product line. Until its closure in 2010, the Vision was also produced in a second facility in LaFayette, Georgia.


1990s Blue Bird/GMC CV200, a predecessor of the Vision

In the early 2000s, Blue Bird Corporation was trying to secure a reliable source of chassis for its Blue Bird Conventional buses. In 1998, Ford Motor Company had discontinued production of bus chassis. In 2003, the supply agreement the company signed with General Motors in 1991 would expire, with little signs of renewal. During the late 1990s, two of the three remaining chassis suppliers acquired the only remaining competitors to Blue Bird; Navistar re-branded AmTran as IC Corporation at the end of 2001, while Freightliner acquired Thomas Built Buses in 1997. Although Navistar remained a source of chassis to all three body manufacturers, Freightliner ended its supply to Blue Bird after 2002.

As a response, Blue Bird began development of the next-generation Blue Bird Conventional in 2002. In collaboration with Ford, the company designed the bus using a Ford F-650 Super Duty medium-duty truck chassis, potentially marking the return of the company as a chassis supplier; introduced in 2000, the F-650 had yet to see use in cowled-chassis applications. Several prototypes were constructed, developing several all-new features previously unseen on school buses; key to this was a wide-angle lens next to the entry door to increase loading-zone visibility. By the end of 2002, however, production plans for Ford-based Blue Bird Conventionals failed to materialize.

Although the Blue Bird/Ford never reached production, Blue Bird chose to develop the concept further. As with the All American, TC/2000, TC/1000, Wanderlodge, and Q-Bus product lines, Blue Bird developed its own chassis for the vehicle. Though sharing much of the body with its Conventional predecessor, the Vision developed advances for the driver in terms of driver sightlines in the critical loading-zone area. Eliminating a major blind spot, the patented Safety View™ Vision Panel ahead of the entry door is a wide-angled Fresnel lens made from laminated glass.

Design History[edit]


A 2003-2007 Vision.

In 2003, the Vision made its debut for 2004 production (the Conventional remained solely on Navistar chassis, becoming the SBCV in 2005). Upon the introduction of the Vision, Blue Bird became the first American body manufacturer to design a cowled chassis for its bus bodies; previously, in-house chassis were reserved for transit-style school buses.

As it would serve no other purpose beyond bus use, Blue Bird optimized the exterior of the Vision to maximize forward visibility; the hood was sharply angled from the base of the windshield, as were the front fenders. The 2003 Vision featured a 50° wheel cut, for improved maneuverability over previous Type C buses. The instrument panel featured large back-lit gauges and switches. The Blue Bird "Handy Bus" option package specified wheelchair lifts and flat-floor interiors. The Vision was available in standard or high headroom.

From 2003 to 2005, the Vision came with the Caterpillar C7 engine as standard equipment, and in 2006, the Cummins ISB became an option.


A 2008 Vision
Drivers' compartment, 2011 Vision

For the 2008 model year, Blue Bird updated the exterior body design of the Vision. The sharply angled hood was replaced with a rounded design that offered a larger grille. Instead of sourcing parts from the All American, the new Vision sourced some of its parts (headlights, steering column, instrument cluster) from Volvo trucks; in the early 2000s, Volvo was one of the parent companies of Blue Bird. Along with the traditional manual and air-powered service doors, an electric-powered service door became an option.

In 2009, the Vision became the first school bus (from the factory) to be equipped with a propane-fueled powertrain, using a GM 8.1L Vortec V8 engine. Previously, school buses fueled by propane were aftermarket conversions (typically of the Chevrolet/GMC B-Series bus chassis). Diesel-powered Visions saw the Caterpillar C7 dropped from engine lineup during 2009.

For 2011, Blue Bird made several detail changes to the Vision. On the outside, the exterior design of the rub rails were changed. On the inside, Blue Bird replaced the Volvo-sourced instrument cluster and steering column to increase parts commonality with the All American. As the supply of GM V8 engines was running out, the company switched to a Ford 6.8L V10 to keep availability of propane-fuel buses. Paired with a Ford 6-speed automatic transmission, the propane-fueled engine was a three-way partnership between Blue Bird, Ford Motor Company, and ROUSH CleanTech.[3]

In 2013, a detail change saw the deletion of the Vision's namesake Safety View™ Vision Panel.


In July 2013, Blue Bird unveiled a number of changes to the Vision conventional at the School Transportation News Expo trade show. Designated as a 2015 model, the updated Vision entered production in October 2013.[4]

On the exterior of the vehicle, a number of changes were made to the lighting systems. The Volvo-sourced headlamp clusters were replaced with single-piece units with clear lenses; the new design is intended to simplify beam adjustment. In addition, all clearance lights were converted to LED bulbs.[4] The grille design was changed, distinguished by a larger Blue Bird emblem.

Inside, the driver's compartment was given a height-adjustable seatbelt for the driver's seat.[4] A rearview camera became added as an option.

To further increase the appeal of the propane-fueled Vision, Blue Bird introduced an optional 98-gallon extended-range fuel tank (standard equipment being 67 gallons).[1][4]

Through 2016, Blue Bird would make several expansions to both the diesel and alternative-fuel powertrain lineup. With the development of further Roush CleanTech fuel systems for the Ford V10 engine, the company introduced gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG) variants of the Vision.[3][5] The introduction of the gasoline version marked the return of a full-size gasoline school bus in North America for the first time since the discontinuation of the Blue Bird/GM CV200 in 2003. As an expansion of the Cummins diesel lineup, the Cummins ISV5.0 5.0L V8 turbo diesel (introduced in the Nissan Titan XD) was introduced for 2017 production.[5] As an option for the Cummins ISB6.7, Blue Bird is introducing the 7-speed Eaton Procision dual-clutch transmission.[5]


2010 propane-powered Vision (with GM 8.1L Vortec V8)
Engine Configuration Years produced Fuel Notes
Caterpillar C7 7.2 L (441 cu in) inline-6 2004-2009 Diesel Standard engine at production launch

Discontinued as Caterpillar exited on-highway engine production.

Cummins ISB5.9 5.9 L (359 cu in) inline-6 2004-2006 Optional engine at production launch, replaced with larger ISB6.7
Cummins ISB6.7 6.7 L (409 cu in) inline-6 2007–present Eaton Procision dual-clutch optional beginning with 2017 production.
Cummins ISV5.0 5.0L V8 begins 2016 First V8 diesel in Type C Blue Bird since 2008 discontinuation of Blue Bird SBCV (International 3300/MaxxForce 7)
General Motors L18 (Vortec 8100) 8.1 L (496 cu in) OHV V8 2009-2011 Propane/LPG First original-equipment school bus sold with a propane-fueled engine (instead of a conversion).

Production of this variant discontinued as supply of General Motors engines ended.

Ford Modular (Triton) V10[6] 6.8 L (413 cu in) SOHC V10 2012–present (propane)



begins 2016



Gasoline (2016–present) Compressed Natural Gas (2016–present)

Ford engine replaced discontinued General Motors engine. Developed with a ROUSH CleanTech propane/LPG fuel system.

2016 production introduces an option of regular gasoline fuel system & also a CNG fuel system

Comparable products[edit]