School buses are typically loud, and not just from all the kids yelling. About 95% of America school buses have rumbly, noisy and polluting diesel engines.

But not the buses at the Clean Energy Road Show, which rolled into Savannah’s Georgia Tech campus Thursday. They’re so quiet that the Canadian-made Lion model plays music to warn pedestrians of its approach.

Ga. Public Service Commissioner and founder of the Clean Energy Road Show Tim Echols prepares to drive the Blue Bird electric school bus. Credit: Mary Landers/The Current

The electric buses were the biggest show-and-tell items among nearly a dozen alternative fuel vehicles on display. Like a few other attendees, Savannah Alderman Nick Palumbo even got to take the Lion bus for a spin, declaring it a smooth ride.

“I drove it like Paw Paw and did not approach top speed,” he tweeted later. “Next time.”

The roadshow, an annual event for over a decade in Savannah and several other Georgia cities, highlighted the advantages of switching to low or zero-emission vehicles as well as the supporting utility infrastructure programs and upcoming federal funding opportunities. On display were vehicles from three Georgia-based companies,  a Club Car Current Electric Small Wheel Utility Vehicle, a KIA Niro EV passenger car, the electric Blue Bird school bus, and a propane-powered Blue Bird school bus. Rounding out the display were a Tesla passenger car; a compressed natural gas-fueled Ford F-150 pickup; a propane autogas-fueled Ford box truck; the Lion electric school bus; a Waste Management Class 8 compressed natural gas trash truck; and an electric yard spotter truck, used to move trailers around a shipping yard.

“What the clean energy Roadshow is all about is helping people evaluate the technologies to determine ‘When do we get it? How many do we get? Does it work? What are the incentives available?'” Echols said at the program’s start. He owns and drives several alternative fuel vehicles.

Palumbo, who rides an electric bike, said alternative fuel vehicles are already gaining acceptance.

“It’s no longer an ‘out there’ concept. And we’ve got it right there in the parking lot that these are ready to roll today. These are ready to be deployed, these are ready to be scaled, these are ready for any community in Georgia in the United States.”

Along with panels of speakers from the manufacturers of the display vehicles and others, including and other Georgia PowerAtlanta Gas Light Peachstate Trucks and Yancey Bus, the roadshow went on the road for a brief field trip to the under-construction Port Fuel Center on Augusta Road near I-95.

It’s a 16-acre fueling facility for both truckers from the nearby Port of Savannah and ordinary drivers. Along with gasoline and diesel it will offer compressed natural gas and electric vehicle charging capacity for 11-12 trucks and 23 passenger cars. That’s more electric vehicle chargers than at any other public charging spot in the county.

Mary Landers is a reporter for The Current in Coastal Georgia with more than two decades of experience focusing on the environment. Contact her at She covered climate and...