Caterpillar Inc. announced a long-term engine supply agreement with Blue Bird Corporation, North America's leading manufacturer of school buses. Under terms of the agreement, Caterpillar will supply the majority of engines used in Blue Bird's school bus production. Caterpillar will supply Blue Bird with its 3126E, C9 and C12 on-highway bus engines equipped with the company's breakthrough ACERT(tm) technology. The agreement will position Caterpillar to become the largest supplier of clean diesel engines to the North American school bus industry. "We are extremely honored to be Blue Bird's new partner in the important North American school bus market," said James J. Parker, Caterpillar vice president of the company's Power Systems Marketing division. "For 75 years, Blue Bird's name has been synonymous with quality and safety, and we are proud to be their engine supplier of choice.""We have been very impressed with Caterpillar's commitment to and investment toward the development of a viable emissions technology solution," said Richard Maddox, Blue Bird president and CEO. "We have examined various options and determined Caterpillar's ACERT technology offers Blue Bird and its customers the best long-term solution for meeting future emissions requirements. We are also impressed with the company's financial strength and its extensive dealer organization and are very excited about this new relationship between our companies, our dealers and our mutual customers."Caterpillar's ACERT technology will be commercially available beginning early next year. The company has invested nearly one-half billion dollars in ACERT technology, which will position Caterpillar for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards in 2007 and beyond. As the world leader in clean diesel technology, Caterpillar has reduced on-highway diesel emissions by nearly 90 percent since 1988 and will reduce those emissions another 90 percent by 2007. The supply agreement becomes effective on Blue Bird's Type D school bus product offerings beginning November 1, 2002. Financial details of the agreement were not released.