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More U.S. School Buses Run on New, Low-emission Diesel Technology

New-generation Diesel Engines Power 40% of U.S. School Buses; Diesel Engines Continue as Technology of Choice for 95% of U.S. School Buses

/EIN News/ -- WASHINGTON, D.C., June 20, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Diesel fuel continues to remain the technology of choice for transporting America’s school children by a wide margin, says new data and analysis.

According to analysis by the Diesel Technology Forum of vehicles in operation data provided by IHS Markit, 95 percent of all school buses in operation in the United States in 2017 were powered by diesel engines. Furthermore, 40 percent of America’s school buses use the newest generation of advanced diesel technology (2011 and newer model years), up from just 31 percent in 2016. According to the same data set, about 2.5 percent are powered by gasoline, 1.9 percent by propane, and 0.6 percent by natural gas, with those powered by other means amounting to less than .01 percent.

“Though school districts are about to let out for summer, there’s no letting up on investments in new technology diesel-powered school buses,” said Allen Schaeffer, executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum. “With nearly 10 percent more new diesel buses on the road since 2016, it’s clear that – even with a growing field of alternative fuels – school bus fleet managers across the United States continue to see diesel technology as the all-around best choice to get students to and from America’s classrooms.”

Diesel technology has fundamentally transformed in the last decade, and its continued dominance in student transportation reflects school districts’ confidence in selecting a technology with a record of continuous improvement and low-cost operation. The new generation of advanced diesel technology buses are equipped with selective catalytic reduction and particulate control technologies, which combine to achieve near-zero emissions for both particulate matter and oxides of nitrogen (NOx).

“It’s clear no other fuel can match the combination of factors offered by the newest generation of diesel technology: efficient performance, reliability, durability, low-cost operation, and maximum flexibility in utilization, routing and fueling,” continued Schaeffer. “Alternative fuels all require compromises and have higher upfront costs and unknowns, which explains their continued relatively low penetration into the school bus fleet.”

Recent findings from the Health Effects Institute (HEI) affirm the near-zero emissions performance of new-technology diesel buses. The HEI’s Advanced Collaborative Emissions Study (ACES) study found that, when combined with aftertreatment technologies, “modern diesel engines are highly effective and that they meet – and exceed – the [emission] reductions mandated by U.S. and EURO regulations.” The ACES study reports that new-technology diesel engines offer a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and a 94 percent reduction in smog-forming NOx compounds, when compared to older generations of the technology.

“Innovation in diesel technology continues to add to its benefits: using blends of U.S.-grown advanced renewable biodiesel fuel in either existing or new diesel engines can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 50 percent to 85 percent,” said Schaeffer. “A growing number of school districts around the country are choosing these advanced renewable biodiesel fuels for their buses because they amplify school districts’ ability to lower their carbon footprints and green their communities.” 

School districts looking to upgrade their aging fleets could find funding opportunities in their states’ Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust settlement. Compared to alternative-fueled school buses, clean diesel bus upgrades offer a more cost-effective option and gain more NOx reductions for the dollar.

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The Diesel Technology Forum is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of diesel engines, fuel and technology. Forum members are leaders in clean diesel technology and represent the three key elements of the modern clean-diesel system: advanced engines, vehicles and equipment, cleaner diesel fuel and emissions-control systems. For more information, visit

Sarah Dirndorfer
Diesel Technology Forum