GreenPower Unveils Plan to Manufacture All Electric School Buses in West Virginia

Electric vehicle manufacturer GreenPower Motor Company signed an agreement last week with the state of West Virginia to begin producing zero-emission, all-electric school buses in a new manufacturing facility, and said the state has committed to buying at least $15 million of the vehicles produced there.

GreenPower and West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice held a press conference last week to announce the deal, which includes a lease/purchase agreement for a 9.5-acre property with an 80,000-square-foot building in South Charleston. Terms of the agreement require no cash up front and monthly lease payments to begin nine months after production is online, GreenPower said.

Production of the Battery Electric Automotive School Transportation — nicknamed BEAST — electric school buses is expected to begin at the facility later this year. Justice said the state will provide up to $3.5 million in employment incentives to GreenPower for jobs created as production increases over time. Ownership of the property will be transferred to GreenPower once total lease and job-incentive credits reach $6.7 million, according to a news release.

“GreenPower is pleased to announce that its zero-emission, all-electric school bus manufacturing operations are expanding east of the Mississippi River with West Virginia becoming our school bus manufacturing base of operations for the region,” said company President Brendan Riley. “West Virginia has shown us that it is a pro-business state that has a workforce ready to take advantage of clean energy jobs.”

“As we continue to diversify our economy, manufacturing these zero-emission school buses in West Virginia will open up a world of opportunities for our state,” the governor said.

Several state officials lauded the move during the event Wednesday, welcoming GreenPower and its plan to introduce more environmentally friendly vehicles into the state’s school transportation system.

“Children are more susceptible to air pollution than healthy adults because their respiratory systems are still developing and they have faster breathing rates,” said Riley, citing studies by the Natural Resources Defense Council showing that diesel fumes from traditional school buses expose children to up to 46 times the level considered by federal regulators as a cancer risk.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to diesel exhaust can trigger health problems like asthma, bronchitis and other respiratory issues and is particularly harmful to children and the elderly.

“The majority of school buses ... expel tons of toxins into the air releasing harmful substances, including hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and other hazardous pollutants that adversely affects children's health and academic performance,” Riley said. “Compounding the concern is the results of recent studies showing that air pollutant levels inside school buses can be greater than the ambient levels outside the bus.”

GreenPower was founded in 2010 and is headquartered in Vancouver with offices and a manufacturing facility in California. Traded on NASDAQ under the symbol GP, GreenPower has produced all-electric heavy-duty vehicles since 2014 and electric transit buses since 2017. Its BEAST model introduced in 2019 was North America’s first purpose-built electric Type-D school bus. Developed to last more than 20 years, the buses’ features include a clean-sheet design, a monocoque body, and a range of 100 miles; GreenPower customers include municipal transport systems, universities, and K–12 districts across the United States and Canada.

For more information, visit the GreenPower website.

About the Author

Kristal Kuykendall is editor, 1105 Media Education Group. She can be reached at [email protected].