Navistar unveiled its new chargE, electric bus at a recent trade show in Columbus. The chargE was designed to give customers a zero-emissions school bus option, according to information from the company. Contributed photo
Photo: Submitted photo
Photo: Submitted photo

Navistar, big Springfield employer, to make electric school bus

Navistar, a major Springfield employer, unveiled an electric school bus at a show in Columbus recently with plans to begin production as early as 2019.

Navistar’s buses are built at a plant in Tulsa, Okla. Company officials said the new product is an example of how the company’s alliance with Volkswagen will allow both companies to develop new technologies.

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The truckmaker’s Springfield plant employs about 1,500 workers and has thousands of retirees still in the area.

Navistar made an alliance last year with Volkswagen that calls for the German firm to buy a roughly 17-percent equity stake in Navistar and invest about $256 million.

The bus, called the chargE, has a range that can exceed 120 miles, according to information from the company.

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“The chargE demonstrates how our alliance with Volkswagen Truck and Bus is allowing us to move even faster into electric powertrains and other advanced technologies, thanks to our ability to leverage both companies’ technology investments and components,” said Bill Kozek, senior vice president for strategic initiatives at Navistar.

This is the second announcement about a new electric vehicle in recent weeks. In September, the company announced plans to build a new electric truck as part of its partnership with Volkswagen. Company officials haven’t said whether that truck will be built in Springfield.

Navistar also operates an assembly plant in Escobedo, Mexico.

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Navistar’s Springfield facility produces medium, severe service and heavy duty commercial trucks, and the GM cutaway van on a separate line. The company will launch a new joint venture truck with GM next year. Those trucks will be available in both the International and GM brands, and will be produced with engineering input from both companies.

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