BYD Unveils World’s Biggest Electric Bus

OCT 19 2014 BY MARK KANE 17

Hundreds gather at the beginning of BYD's APTA EXPO presentation -- they revealed a 120 passenger, battery-electric bus that could travel over 170 miles on a single charge and a 40-foot bus that drove 1500 miles California to Texas for $200 worth of electricity under its own power (charged along the way).

Hundreds gather at the beginning of BYD’s APTA EXPO presentation — they revealed a 120 passenger, battery-electric bus that could travel over 170 miles on a single charge and a 40-foot bus that drove 1500 miles California to Texas for $200 worth of electricity under its own power (charged along the way).

At the 2014 American Public Transportation Association (APTA) Expo, BYD unveiled its new electric vehicle – the all-electric 60-foot articulated bus.

It’s named “The Lancaster” after the city in California where it was designed and manufactured.

Lancaster Vice Mayor Marvin Crist proclaimed:

“BYD Motors is an American manufacturing company residing in an industrial zone in the city of Lancaster – they have now hired over 60 Americans to build clean-tech Electric Buses and Energy Modules out of Lancaster, California.”

Over 170 miles of range, space for 120 passengers and more than 12-years battery life are the numbers appearing on the vehicle.

“The Lancaster eBus, a break-through, 60-foot, articulated battery-electric bus, can drive 170+ miles with a passenger load of up to 120 passengers, was in development for almost two years, and is an example of how committed BYD is to the American Rapid Transit markets.”

BYD Motors Fleet Sales Vice President, Brendan Riley stated:

“BYD’s mission is to create safer and more environmentally-friendly battery technologies. This has resulted in the BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable, and incredibly long-cycle technology — the foundation of BYD’s Electric buses. These buses run entirely off battery power lasting up to 24 hours on a single charge, with single off-peak charging time of 2-4 hours. No additional generation capacity is needed to be built to charge our buses at night since the grid is only 40% utilized.”

On display at the BYD Exhibit was also a 40-foot bus from Antelope Valley Transit Authorit, which drove 1,500 miles from California do Houston on its own power recharging along the route.

AVTA Board Chairman Norm Hickling boasted that the 40-foot bus on the Expo show floor was the only bus, “that drove over 1500 zero-emission miles from Los Angeles all the way to Houston for the Expo under its own power.” AVTA tested BYD buses in the hottest part of the Lancaster summer in August with full air-conditioning running and with 5250 pounds of sand bags to simulate a full passenger load. He further stated, “We drove nearly 100 miles more than BYD advertises — up to 250 miles per bus charge and we covered almost 750 miles in 24 hours! We are very impressed with BYD technology and quality.” The most interesting news about this 1500 mile journey to Texas is that it was completed for “$200 in electricity–the lowest cost trip to the show of all buses.”

BYD Vice President Micheal Austin commented:

“BYD is leading the Renaissance in Transit – a rebirth of electrified transportation…but this time without miles of electrified rails, ugly over-head wires or charging stations. If you look around the show floor, there are electric buses now at every relevant transit vendor! This is a complete reversal from the Expo three years ago when we were the only 40-foot, long-range, battery-electric bus on the show floor — we are proud to say that we were one of the first and we are raising the bar again today!”

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17 Comments on "BYD Unveils World’s Biggest Electric Bus"

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Since BYD has this market all to itself, I should have bought some BYD stock… This is the model that will be used by many cities, since it is so easy to implement (no changes to infrastructure at all except for the trivial change at the bus depot. I’m assuming this bus has upwards of a 600 kwh battery, with a propane, or fuel oil heater for cold climates. So, for much of the year, the bus transports huge numbers of the public using off-peak baseload electricity alone, at a substantial cost savings, and no smog generation. Why can’t other manufacturers see the simplicity and elegance of this method? Large trucks seem to be going substantially the LNG and CNG route, which is ok, but I bet there are many other applications which could use a large battery for the vehicle’s daily commute and the advantage of course is, there is plenty of room to store the batteries. That volvo bus with a battery smaller than the Leaf’s is to my mind the biggest joke going. How much do the terminal chargers or bus stop chargers really cost to install and maintain? The BYD scheme needs none of that nonsense.… Read more »

While I agree on your comment I have to correct you by saying that Volvo Buses and the Volvo company are swedish and have always been swedish.

Volvo is coming with an all electric bus next year, but as always the old traditional brands are slower to change than the new disruptors like BYD.

There is no percentage chinese ownership at all?

No, Volvo Trucks is Swedish. Volvo Cars is a separate company and is owned by Geely (chinese). The global branding and logo assets have been shared between the two distinct companies since they were split up in the 90’s(I think).

Thanks for the clarification… What was the original motivation for the divestiture?

To somewhat flesh out my own question, per Wikipedia, Aktiebolaget Industrivärden is the majority shareholder of the truck company, so by that standard it is indeed a “Swedish” company.

Ford owned the car division for 10 years prior to GEELY.

One big reason was that it’s hard for a smaller car manufacturer to survive and develop what’s needed on their own.
But in hindsight it was a big mistake to sell the company, at least to Ford, since they had no idea how to treat Volvo right and get the best out of the brand and company.
It’s so much better now for Volvo Cars, the chinese know what they are doing.

BYD doesn’t have the market all to itself. New Flyer is making battery-electric buses which are just as good. There are also several companies in China making good battery-electric buses, stricktly for the Chinese market. There’s also Proterra, though they’re a bit questionable.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I wonder what the cost/range sweet spot is for buses, given their duty cycle and fixed routes. Quick charging is more appealing logistically though that adds more to infrastructure costs. I wonder how much municipal accounting standards will influence the EV bus market.

BYD would answer that THEY are the “sweet spot”, being the lowest overall cost whether a 1500 mile journey, or a dedicated daily route. They claim they are THE lowest cost. If VOLVO is bringing out a BEV, then the old saying “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” comes to mind. If you can’t beat ’em with bus stop substations and 19 kwh batteries, then join ’em with a plain old BEV, and put a decently sized battery in it since you have the WHOLE bus to put it in. One point where prospective BEV bus companies are getting a bit too greedy on is insisting that they be exempt from demand charges that their neighbors have to pay. The bus company is already getting ridiculously cheap after midnight baseload electricity already, and the transformer capacity necessary to run the Bus Depot only is a cost the Bus Depot legitimately accrues. They should pay it. In My area (British Owned National Grid), a 70% demand rate discount is given to any customer that agrees to take non-secure 23KV electricity from a feeder (meaning, in effect, you need TWO 23 kv feeds as well as all switching on premises required… Read more »

Just to note, the quick-charge approach can potentially result in a cheaper bus than BYD’s approach, especially for short routes, since you need a lot less battery than with a large battery approach. Proterra has already brought their bus down to 800,000 or 825,000, which is the same price as BYD’s.

BYD’s killer advantage, for now, is that Proterra’s charging stations, at last check, cost $600,000. The price will probably drop, but BYD, if they’re smart, will manage to drop the price of their batteries, especially with the LiMnFePO4 business.

BYD’s big weakness, though, is that their buses require significant downtime (3 hours per 24-30 hour cycle), compared to quick-charge buses that can potentially see only 1/33th of their operating time under charge.

That’ll be a big killer for BYD; BYD’s next stop probably should be intercity buses like the ones operated by Megabus and Greyhound; BYD is already reporting 500 km peak range; with the upcoming LiMnFePO4 upgrade they should be able to have enough range to cover most Greyhound routes. Unfortunately, having to dock the bus for 4-5 hours as they charge up might break the economic case for heavy duty buses.

At the Expo, New Flyer Industries and Nova Bus (Volvo’s North American Public Transit Brand) both exhibited 100% Battery Electric Vehicles. Both vehicles use pantographs for fast charging, but using different techniques for deployment. New Flyer Industries had on display a 40′ model, but indicated that they can build 35′ and 60′ versions using the same technology. Nova Bus didn’t indicate that they were building a 60′ version, but did indicate their buses will look more like the European Volvo models, like the 7900, in the future.

For those in colder climates, onboard heaters will still be diesel or propane powered depending on the customer’s specifications.

BYD’s KISS technology is also starting to gain leverage against fancier alternatives in the electric taxi market: ‘Shenzhen-based BYD Co. was the big winner in the city’s first tender for emission-free taxis in the EU’s de facto capital, beating Renault and Nissan. Of the 50-car order for battery-powered taxis, local operators bought 34 of BYD’s e6 model, the Chinese manufacturer said in a statement. “I’d rather have chosen a European brand than a Chinese one of course,” Luigi Marrocco, chief executive officer of Taxis Bleus, one of the two biggest taxi companies in Brussels, said. “But when it comes to size, comfort and range, BYD was clearly above Nissan and Renault.” The deal is a blow for Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of both Renault and Nissan, who has struggled to find buyers for the group’s Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf electric vehicles. For BYD, it’s the biggest taxi order so far in Europe. The company has 20 taxis in London and a “small number” in Rotterdam, it said. BYD’s e6 has a range of 300km (190 miles), double the 150km that Renault’s Zoe can drive before needing to recharge. Taxis Bleus, which operates 320 cabs in Brussels, bought 13 BYD… Read more »

Pardon my stupidity, but I thought BYD was a Chinese company.

What did I miss?

A Chinese company with 50 employees in California.

California politicians are no doubt wanting to trumpet any companies that set up shop no matter how small.

It may be a small effort in the grand scheme of things, but I like their bus.

My basic question is why are so few companies doing exactly what BYD is.

There is one company showcased here in the past that was taking ‘blown’ busses and retrofitting them to be a BEV bus, but they want too much money for their efforts.

How do you most easily get a US citizen to buy your stuff? Smack a “Made in the US”-label on it.

yuval Brandstetter MD

What it means is that Tesla’s big idea, which is Big Battery to elmininate range anxiety, trumps other considerations such as up-front cost. As battery volume production ramps up price per stored KwH will drop, as did the price for photovoltaics, which dropped by two orders of magnitude in 25 years (from 50 $/Watt to o.5) Thus Zero had quadrupled its battery storage capacity in 8 years, and the Internal combustion engine should be ousted as a premitive relic ASAP