Electric Winnebago to bring early education as "Magic Bus" in Colorado
Based on a Ford F-53 EPIC chassis from Motiv Power Systems, the Magic Bus is a project of Winnebago and YouthPower365. The electric bus has been outfitted as a traveling learning center for pre-kindergarten children.
The project is a collaboration between Winnebago Industries Specialty Vehicle and the Vail Valley Foundation's YouthPower365 initiative in Colorado. The new Magic Bus, as it's being called, is the first all-electric mobile preschool in the world. A gas-powered version of the bus is already in operation, and the two will make rounds through neighborhoods of Eagle County, Colorado four days a week, bringing education to as many pre-K children as possible.
The project's goal is to ensure that these children, who during the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns may not be receiving the pre-K education they need, are ready for kindergarten. "The children and families served by the Magic Bus need to be kindergarten-ready [before fall 2021] even considering the current crisis," said YouthPower365 senior manager Kendra Cowles.
The Magic Bus is a Winnebago Industries J33SE zero-emission commercial vehicle that uses Motiv Power Systems' chassis. Upfitting to the vehicle was done by local shop Summit Bodyworks, to customize the bus for its mission. The YouthPower365 project expects to see up to 85 percent fewer operational and maintenance costs associated with the Magic Bus when compared to its gasoline-powered counterpart. It should have a range of approximately 100 miles (161 km).
Fitting and customizing the Magic Bus centered around a preschool classroom design with the support that a traditional, brick-and-mortar facility would have. Play and kitchen areas are integral, as are plenty of hands-on and facilitated learning options for kids. Proper Covid-19 precautions are also in place, under the direction of Colorado's Eagle County Public Health authority.
The Magic Bus begins operations on October 5th and is expected to run through the end of the 2020-2021 school year.