Published on October 21st, 2015 | by Kyle Field


A Look Under The Hood At The BYD Electric Bus Factory

October 21st, 2015 by  

After talking with BYD at Solar Power International last month, BYD invited CleanTechnica over for an inside look at the latest and greatest creations from BYD at their Lancaster, California, electric bus factory. Zach covered the launch of the facility back in May of 2013 on our sister site EV Obsession and we were eager to take a look inside to see first-hand what they’ve been working on.

BYD Factory Exterior and solar led

BYD factory and solar LED installation.

So, what are they doing in Lancaster?

As the first Chinese auto manufacturing plant in the US, the opening of the BYD bus and coach factory (as it’s officially known) was a big win for Southern California, bringing 300 new jobs — which are split between their US headquarters in Los Angeles and their Lancaster electric bus factory. On top of that, BYD has an aggressive plan that it built with the City of Lancaster to bring even more jobs… and electric vehicles to the States with the total BYD staff expected to be over 625 by 2018. This bodes well for the area (yay, cleantech jobs!) and for the electrification of US transportation. It’s evident that BYD has a great partnership with the City of Lancaster, whom they worked with closely to develop not only the plan to stand up the factory but on a full growth plan spanning 5 years of substantial growth. There was also quite a bit of support from former Governor Arnold Swarzenegger and current Governor Jerry Brown to court BYD and woo them into coming to California.

Lancaster is just 75 miles northeast of Los Angeles, which puts its factory in close proximity to the Los Angeles Metropolitan area while leaving enough distance to stay out of the expensive real estate that is much of the greater Los Angeles Area. They are also very centrally located in a key state that’s driving aggressive anti-climate change policy, which I’m certain is no accident.

BYD LA Metro Bus

100% electric BYD LA Metro bus.

A bit about BYDs buses

We have covered many of the new contracts and innovations related to BYD’s buses on CleanTechnica, but what sets them apart? One thing is their insane range – their stated range is 150 miles per charge but a recent 24-hour stress test in the Antelope Valley proved that they are capable of cranking out 240–270 miles per charge (386–434 kms). As if that weren’t impressive enough, they then charged the buses back up (they can fully charge the bus in as fast as 1 hour!) and ran them again until they were empty over and over for a full 24 hours for a total of 746 miles.

If those impressive stats aren’t enough, BYD’s electric buses are also capable of on-route charging. This means that they can charge at bus stops or at a bus depot while the driver takes their mandated break, etc, with a goal of being able to run continuously. This has already been approved in forward-thinking Washington as part of a recently announced contract. While BYD has determined that 100 kW wireless charging seems to be the sweet spot in balancing high speed and minimal wear on the battery, they have proven 200 kW speeds at a 12″ air gap while working with wireless charging technology companies like Momentum Dynamics to continue to drive improvements in their implementation of wireless inductive charging.

With wireless charging, a big concern is efficiency, as power is lost just transferring the power to the vehicle — BYD shared that the efficiency is in the high 90s, which sounds like a good start. If I were looking for a set of electric buses with wireless charging, I would want a more specific number, as the wireless charging efficiency has a direct impact on the cost to charge these high-usage vehicles as all power lost just pushing the power to the bus is non-value add overhead (tl;dr — higher efficiency = lower cost to run the buses).

BYD goes all-in when it comes to its buses. The company seems to have thought through every detail and optimized every part of the equation. This is evident when popping the (rear) hood. Standing front and center are the charge controller and charger… which are both onboard. They are flanked by two inverters to either side which are key to what BYD is doing with the hardware back there: Building the charging infrastructure and inverters into each bus means buyers don’t have to pay for expensive (upwards of $250,000 each) stationary chargers and infrastructure on top of the buses. All of the high-tech charging equipment is always on board, which allows the stationary electrical vehicle service equipment (EVSE) that is also included in the purchase of each bus is merely a straight pass-through of AC power from the grid (AC) to the bus. This is a massive advantage, as it allows buyers to install many more of the inexpensive EVSEs than needed to offer more flexibility for their fleet.

BYD Rear Hatch with Fire Suppression

Under the rear hatch of a BYD electric bus with integrated fire suppression equipment.

One innovation that really leverages those onboard inverters and, in my opinion, takes BYD’s buses to the next level in a completely new way is a breakthrough project they’re working on with a few federal agencies here in the US to use their buses as a HUGE, distributed grid-scale battery (GSB). Imagine a fleet of 20 or 40 electric buses that are just running their normal routes (with 500 kWh worth of batteries in each) and a hurricane hits, taking out power to the city. City officials can then take their normal city bus fleet, school bus fleet, and local long-distance buses (because they’re all BYD electric buses, right?) and, using the aforementioned onboard inverters, plug them directly into the city’s AC power grid at a predetermined location (hence the advance federal emergency response planning requirement) and restore power to select portions of the city grid for emergency response activities, running off of the juice stored in the buses. This has the potential to not only marry emergency preparedness and city transit, but really takes emergency preparedness to the next level.

Another great feature that showcases the flexibility of electric drive buses, BYD is able to throttle govern their transit buses for safety. Some gasmobiles are regulated with a governer that ensures the driver doesn’t exceed a speed limit set by the company, agency, or area. That makes sense… so why does BYD throttle govern their buses?

It starts with instant torque in a bus with HUGE motors designed to carry a full load of 60 adults. Let’s remove 59 of those adults and “accidentally” pound the throttle to the floor. Did you feel those front wheels lift off the ground a bit? Yeah, I didn’t either, but you probably did see that single passenger get thrown from his seat to the back of the bus as you peeled rubber away from that stop sign (in a bus!). You get the point. Their buses are insanely powerful, and to ensure that their buses are safe at any speed with any load, they are throttle governed. Phew, that was a mouthful.

BYD In the Drivers Seat

Out for a ride in a BYD electric bus.

So how do you build an electric bus?

As with most transit bus builds, BYD’s buses are custom jobs from the ground up. There are a few base models, then options upon options to choose from, such as passenger capacity, range, colors, integrated fire suppression, paint jobs, etc. We were able to see quite a few of the variants BYD offers as we walked around the factory.

Bus Frame Welded Up

Bus frame welded up.

To allow for all of the customization possibilities, BYD buses start by welding up a naked steel frame to which aluminum sides are attached through a proprietary process, then framed up with fiberglass panels and windows. The bus is wired up and fitted with interior panels and insulation to keep out the road noise. BYD shared that it’s much easier to wire up an electric bus because they don’t have to deal with converting gas power to electricity via an alternator — they just wire everything up.

Fiberglass and Wiring

Mounting panels, windows, and installing wiring.

After the buses are wired up, they move on to the paint booth where they can get decked out with whatever designs the customer spec’d out. We saw a lot of white buses on the assembly line and a few LA metro buses that had more exciting color patterns running around the factory as well.

At this point, the buses look ready to go but are missing the drive mechanics and batteries.  The buses are lined up in an assembly line format and these components are added.  Batteries used to take up more room in the interior of the buses but recent improvements in battery storage density have allowed BYD to get rid of one of the large battery cabinets, providing more room for passengers and less overall weight.  What’s neat here is that the exterior of their buses look almost identical to ‘normal’ city buses.  There’s no extra hump or raised floor or much of anything that would give away to passengers that they’re on a cutting edge electric bus generating no emissions…which is exactly the point!  These buses look like and run like normal buses…minus all the diesel exhaust, high fuel costs, high maintenance costs and frequent breakdowns.

Assembly line from Above

Assembly line from Above

After the buses are fully assembled, they are run through BYD’s test line where their charging system is tested, then they go for a spin on the in-house dynamometer and are tested for leaks and sound mechanics. From there, they are ready to hit the road.

It’s obvious from seeing the factory that BYD has put in a ton of effort to perfect their buses and to bring their buses to North America. Where are they going? They have quite a few things going on that I can’t share, so I’ll just leave a few last comments here for you to ponder from what they have already announced:

  1. BYD has previously announced that it is building electric trucks in China and wants to bring them to America.
  2. BYD has announced an aggressive growth strategy for it Lancaster factory over the next 3 years.
  3. BYD’s North American President Stella Li has shared that, as battery prices come down, BYD will be ready to move into the consumer car market in America.

Here are a few more pics from the tour:

I’ll leave you with a video from my LEAF of a “musical road” we drove over in the bus. I went back after leaving the factory to film this because I thought it was so neat… and extra fun in my quiet EV 🙂

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  • I’m still thinking this is great. However, this is a public/private partnership (PPP) as presented by State of California and BYD. PPPs can go wonderfully and they can go bad. As the US is less interesting in investing public funds in things like infrastructure and public transit, these partnerships have become more commonplace. There is less public scrutiny and greater chance of shenanigan-sim. Apparently a handful of government department secretaries (transportation and energy) are moving over to private partners these days. BYD is one of them. There’s other examples. An extreme case of PPP is Chicago public schools right now with our previous school board chairman being indicted for skimming off of a private contract for “leadership” training of principals. Texas and California have endless examples of this. So does our department of defense.

    Anyway, BYD will probably be successful. But it won’t always be on genius and pluck by offering a better mousetrap. It takes political and business clout to make inroads into the US from abroad. US DoT and DoE heavily pushed this effort during the depth of the financial crises in the US. So did the State of California. So did Warren Buffett and his Berkshire Hathaway empire.

    I can only hope it will be emblematic of his many successes and not so much his light sweet crude rail hauling empire via BNSF and Union Tank Car. These are the rail tank cars, along with UTEX et al that have exploded in Canada, North Dakota, and Illinois. Most of this train traffic is going through Chicagoland as Bakken crude is carried to east coast refineries. Penny Pritzker’s, US Secretary of Commerce, family owned Marmon Group who held Union tank car that was recently sold to Berkshire Hathaway and put under BNSF. This is an example of how PPPs for rail and public transportation seem to work these days.

    The point here is that our public commons (public transportation) is getting more uncommon through special interest and political clout. If bus fares stay the same or get cheaper and more people take the bus instead of driving cars, maybe it will be fine.

    • Kyle Field

      I see the factory as BYD getting their foot in the door. They still have to find buyers for their products to remain in business in California…

  • subspace

    Thanks for the detailed report!

  • wave

    byd are going to eat other offerings lunch we just had some hybrid from a competitors based on the volvo platform and the “high tech” battery tech they are using has 1/2 the life are marginaly lighter but require a huge cooling system that negates the weight loss of the batteries and is overly complex (way more parts to maintain) plus in the (unlikely) event the battery where to blow the batteries that byd are using are much much safer.
    also thats for a hybrid with the amount of battery needed if they move full electric with no change to battery tech the cooling system will need to be like huge (really really huge).
    the only reason someone would choose another manufacturer then byd for electric at this point either dont understand the technology involved or how to figure out maintenance cost for that matter to make an informed decision or are influenced by politics or just bias toward china, it could be that they just read website and read brochures instead of poping panels and looking inside.

    also warranty on batteries of 12 years for byd is no small thing
    the main issue i had against the k9 when i got a peak at it was that it had no rubber bumpers (cant push the bus with a truck or park bumper to bumper actualy a big deal for people handling them) and they seem to have fixed that so cheers .

    • Bob_Wallace

      12 years is the average lifespan of a city bus so a 12 year warranty should make purchase departments happy.

      Apparently BYD’s batteries have been holding up very well in taxi use. Some of the taxis in China run 24 hours a day and the batteries are rapidly charged during driver meal breaks.

      Have you looked at the Proterra bus which uses a smaller battery pack and charges while on route?

      • wave

        havent had the chance to see the inside of a proterra , id like to know if their battery need cooling like the other lith-ion ones iv seen doh because if you need a rad+tank+pump+pluming you can very quickly end up with much more weight/volume then the byd LiFePO4 (plus adding yet another system to maintain)

        didnt know proterra had the on route charging (byd got this also)
        but thats another thing there should be some tech contest for those wifi charging and have one standard win over, otherwise your either going to have to pay for multiple charging systems (if possible) all over your terminals or be locked in to one manufacturer for a very very long time

        what really need to go is “hybrid” more parts to maintain, marginal fuel savings,more expensive. its a inbetween technology thats not needed for the sector and all the ones iv seen are pretty much made just to qualify for green legislations its holding back the introduction of real full electric buses like the one byd are offering, so many freaking parts in those hybrids sometimes i put my tinfoil hat on and think that its a big conspiracy to suck more money out operators the engineers must be getting bonuses if they can had extra filters and custom parts.

    • This sounds more like a sales spiel for BYD than an analysis on the feasibility of EV buses. A good assumption is that the buyer for a municipality is learned and has weighed the options for technology type selection before going forward. Putting the residents, riders and taxpayers before him or her self interest. (that was satire)

      An even better assumption in this day and age, as big cities go broke, is the buyer for the municipality is part of a public/private partnership. Where the technology provider is part of the upfront decision making team slyly contracted with the municipality. Or heavily influences the selection of which or whose technology a city goes with. Infrastructure (and education for that matter) are being taken out of the public hands and being put into the hands of the private. Not because the private is wiser and more publicly spirited. It’s because there’s big pools of money to dip into.

      I’m sure BYD is great and the buses will run swimmingly. But there’s always many ways to skin a cat. That’s the difference between effectively engineering a solution and simply out hawking technology of a specific supplier as salesman.

      The real issue is that cities are getting less money from state and federal funding sources. That’s where private funding is coming in. Private funding want to call the shots. This is also called starving the beast. User rates won’t come down with new technology as the upfront cost of adoption needs to be paid for. Now if everyone was as smart as a cleantechnica moderator, there wouldn’t be any of these problems.

    • eveee

      Thanks for the post. What do you think of Stanfords electric buses? They have 30 foot shuttles at $1.66 per mile if I read correctly, the lowest of any of their same sized shuttles. That sounds like it jives with your experience. Do tell.

      BYD uses LiFeP batteries(?) that give them good fast charging and discharge characteristics.

  • vensonata

    So…how does this bus compare to an 18 wheeler for energy demand? Is its 500kwh battery big enough to drive an 18 wheeler, 200 miles at highway speeds?

    • Kyle Field

      I’m working on getting that exact type of detail. Of the cuff, I would guess that the 18 wheeler is much heavier but this generation of ev tech could be a good fit for lighter delivery trucks and the line. As battery process down, I fully expect to see this replacing semis.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Here’s some notes I’ve made on driving 18 wheelers with swappable batteries. Use anything you find usable. The page isn’t well organized. At this point I’ve just copied some stuff over as I’ve found it.

        Some of the stuff is copied out of other discussions here.

        And if you see mistakes/problems please leave a comment.

        Bus vs. 18 wheeler. Buses transport large volumes of air and small amounts of meat. 18 wheelers tend to get packed full and tight.

        • Dag Johansen

          “Buses transport large volumes of air and small amounts of meat.” LOL. You are such a romantic.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Somewhere inside me lurks the soul of an engineer….

          • Kyle Field

            Time to go Vegan, Bob 🙂

        • Kyle Field

          Thanks Bob, these are great notes! Can’t wait to apply them. Ok, that’s actually what I have to do is to wait…but I’m ready 🙂

          • Bob_Wallace

            If you’re digging for something you’re not finding let me know and I’ll look too. The topic interest me.

        • Coley

          Bob, given that the cooling and exhaust weights for big trucks are fairly substantial, then going off your figures there isn’t a lot of real difference between the competing weights?

    • Ronald Brakels

      A modern large bus engine is typically 200+ kilowatts. Large trucks vary in power, but apparently about 300 kilowatts is common in the US, although they can be over 480 kilowatts. But a city bus will spend a lot of time accelerating at close to full power as it stops and starts, while a big truck will spend more time cruising at below full power and the engine will only labour when going uphill or something. This makes regenerative braking much more useful in city buses than long haul trucks.

      A large truck may be 40 tonnes, or it may be 200 tonnes in Australia and have four trailers. To move a fully loaded 40 tonne truck 300 kilometers (roughly 200 miles) might take a megawatt-hour. Actually, probably less than that, but I am being very rough in my estimations.

      • Bob_Wallace

        I’m lost on the kilowatts stuff. Are you doing a horsepower to kW conversion?

        • Ronald Brakels

          Sorry, yes, that’s a horsepower to kilowatts conversion. I like kilowatts. There are 745.7 watts to a horsepower.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, thanks.

            Just wondering. With an electric motor’s immediate high torque would a large vehicle need as many HP/kW if powered by electricity?

          • Ronald Brakels

            Well, what happens is, any electric bus or truck with enough horsewatts to do highways speeds will have good acceleration compared to a standard ICE bus or truck. Much better acceleration in fact.

            So if an electric vehicle can do highway speeds, good acceleration is basically a freebie. And 400 horsepower is 400 horsepower whether it comes from an electric engine or an internal combustion engine.

            That said, an electric truck could do with less horsepower than an ICE truck and still do a run in the same time thanks to its greater acceleration, but the difference probably isn’t very large.

            So since time is money, and that’s what trucking companies care about, an electric truck could have less horsepower and do the same job in the same time, but it probably couldn’t have much less horsepower.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Of course, there is the weight of the batteries to consider. The heavier the batteries, the more drag on performance. But then, since it is much cheaper to increase the horsepower of an electric motor than an ICE engine, we may see haulage companies preferring trucks with higher horsepower so they can accelerate faster and cut down travel times. Counter balancing that will be greater wear and tear on batteries due to the greater power draw, but that might not be an issue in the future.

            Also, since electricity is so much cheaper than diesel, gasoline, or CNG, that could result in an increase in horsepower as the energy required to move truck costs less and so more powerful engines will be used to cut down on travel times.

            And part of the reason why time is money is because drivers need to be paid. So self driving trucks may have a horsepower lowering effect, as the cost of operating a truck per hour decreases. But this effect may be minor.

            And of course we can slap solar cells on trucks, but that will only provide a small portion of energy use.

            So all up, maybe slightly lower horsepower for electric trucks to begin with. Then as batteries come down in cost and weight horsepower will tend to increase. But it seems certain that local and short distance delivery trucks will lead the way with electrification and lessons learned there will guide electric long haul truck development. Diesel-electric and CNG-electric, basically hybrid trucks, could also be an educational halfway-house between ICE engines and full electrics and could conceivably see a lot of use in places like Australia.

          • eveee

            And busses rarely do stoplight drag races or have Ludicrous modes.

            But I tell you those electric overhead buses are pretty quick. Don’t try to beat them at a stoplight, you will lose. And quiet. And they don’t stink.

          • Ronald Brakels

            And I just replied to myself in case you missed it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Saw it but I’m too sleepy to follow. Will mark for the morrow.

      • vensonata

        I think to make an estimate I would use the miles per gallon. Average long haul truck at 55 miles per hour gets 6 miles per gallon. There are new “super trucks” that get 12 mpg. So the energy efficiency of a diesel engine is maybe 25% of the 40kwh available in a gallon of diesel. 10 kwh for 6 miles = 1.6 kwh per mile. So if we want to travel 200 miles we need 320 kwh. Not bad, considering its an average truck. With the super truck we need only 160 kwh to travel 200 miles. Let’s give them a nice 300 mile range per charge…so 240 kwh. And we can’t discharge 100% so make it a 300 kwh battery for an easy range of 300 miles. Recharge needs to be quick so we need the battery to have 4 charge ports at 100kw per port for a full charge in 45 minutes. Done.
        The cost? At the soon to arrive $125 kwh the battery will be $37,500. Nothing, really.

        • Ronald Brakels

          Looks good. Diesel engines are around 40% efficient though. And the weight of the batteries will bump things up. Maybe 10% for 300 miles? And it would get a little back from regenerative braking – don’t know how much that would be.

          • vensonata

            40%! Maybe the very top of the line. But let’s be gentlemen and give them every possible advantage…still electric is possible and probably cheaper than diesel within a few years. “The internal combustion engine is the cigarette of the future” Don’t know who said that.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Diesel engines are much more efficient than gasoline ones. This PDF of an EPA report from 11 years ago gives an engine efficiency of about 48% for heavy duty diesel trucks. But that would be peak efficiency. In actual use it might average out to about 40%.


          • eveee

            vensonata – I posted this to Bob. I think electric buses are already cheaper to operate than diesel overall.


        • Bob_Wallace

          When you’re ending up with needing a 300 kwh battery, that’s less than four Tesla S battery packs (85 x 4 = 340 kWh). Stack them between the wheels and under the cab.

          A battery swap every three hours would not be bad.

          Commercial trucks can consume $70,000 in fuel per year and another $15,000 in maintenance.

    • Peter

      This is a bit tangential to the question but if fully autonomous trucks becomes practical I don’t think they’ll be as large and heavy as trucks are today. Now, with the driver being a large share of the cost, you want to maximize the amount of cargo per driver, but when he is removed there really aren’t that powerful economies of scale in trucks over a certain size. And if you look at it from a societal perspective, lighter trucks would be a really big win since road wear is proportional to the fourth power of vehicle axle load if I recall correctly.

  • Now this is something I get excited about. I read yesterday that CA’s high speed rail project is looking to China engineering and construction to take ownership under a design/build (ownership/financed) contract. Probably due to cost. From American Journal of Transportation (they’ve been around so I’m sure they ain’t spammers):

    “Chinese firms want to build, finance California high-speed train”

    Which probably means Caltrans is revisiting the estimate cost and going “holy cow is this thing going to be expensive. Let’s see what the Chinese can do if for.” This leads me to think who could afford to ride this thing? Chinese investors are just like US investors, since return on investment is a universally accepted economic analysis.

    So I was thinking. High speed rail and maybe the Hyperloop caters to wealthier riders going from Northern to Southern California and visa versa. Why not put some government money into improving business air travel and the lion’s share into improving and greening up local public transportation. Like this EV bus subject.

    And since China is building a factory that’s even better.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Hyperloop is projected to be cheaper than the bus.

      We should know within two years whether the Hyperloop has a fatal flaw. And at that point in time it should be possible to do an accurate cost estimate.

      I’m not getting upset about the slow start to HSR because it looks to me that the Hyperloop could be superior to HSR.

      Assume, for sake of argument, costs per mile were the same. Going with an elevated tube should be much easier to site. No road crossing issues. It could go through fields without using all that much of the ag land, crops/grazing would just fit around the footings. There would not be hundreds of miles of fences to inspect and keep in repair, no people or animal on tracks issues. No snow closures.

      Smaller capacity pods could easier serve less visited destinations along the way simply by running a limited number of pods to that locale and shunting them off to the station siding. No need to stop an entire train.
      HSR is somewhat successful with getting people off planes. But if the Hyperloop turns out to be significantly faster as well as a lot cheaper than flying who is going to pick going slower on a bumpy plane from SF to NYC and pay more for the trip?

      I do not know if the Hyperloop will be faster or cheaper. I’m just excited about it perhaps being. It could mean a drastic cut in petroleum use for long distance travel. Another market driven climate change fighting tool.

      • High speed rail or hyperloop will be expensive and will take public money to build. The advantage of HSR over the hyperloop is it exists in a physical form at the moment. Musk simply prepared a pre concept paper on an idea he had. Probably while sitting in a drive through banking stall or reading about New York city’s attempts at pneumatics for a subway system back around 1900. I’m sure the hyperloop will go forward. It will probably be a great solution to transporting business travelers between Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Maybe for Tesla marketing executives to check on their new advertising campaign to promote the hyperloop in Encino.

        Then there’s the 99.9% of the population who won’t be taking HSR or the hyperloop. Many of these people would like to not sit in LA traffic in their gasoline burning cars, but are scared of public transportation.

        The point is public money gets appropriated. Big cool projects always take away money from little uncool projects like intra city bus transportation. Also a big cool project with high capital cost attracts well connected engineering and construction firms, be it HSR or the hyperloop. Hyperloop has AECOM on board with Tesla. AECOM is the biggest E&C firm in the US. They build much of our governments stuff. You don’t do that without having friends.

        Small or big improvements to city bus travel doesn’t require much capital for infrastructure since it’s already there. And of course real estate developers can’t buy land ahead of the public build and make a killing selling it back to the State.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “High speed rail or hyperloop will be expensive and will take public money to build.”

          Possibly. At the moment the Chinese are offering to build and finance HSR in the US. Apparently they think they can make money off it. Musk thinks that the Hyperloop could be built with private money and turn a profit.
          Of course they will be expensive. If we keep burning fossil fuels in planes climate change will be expensive.

          ” The advantage of HSR over the hyperloop is it exists in a physical form at the moment.”

          Groundbreaking for the first five mile Hyperloop track is scheduled for about three weeks from now. It is expected that the test loop will be running in two years or less. The system will carry people at speeds under 200 miles but freight at between 700 and 800 mph. (Tight turns on the ends would create too many Gs for humans.)

          “Musk simply prepared a pre concept paper on an idea he had. Probably while sitting in a drive through banking stall….”

          I’m sure that thousands of engineers and other people with the engineering chops have poured over Musk’s paper trying find a fatal flaw. Nothing so far. Guess we’ll have to let the pod spin around the track to see if Elon was right.

          BTW, the guy pulled off PayPal, Tesla, and SpaceX. It would probably be wise to assume he knows a bit more than the average guy sitting at the bar drinking a cold one.

          “Then there’s the 99.9% of the population who won’t be taking HSR or the hyperloop. Many of these people would like to not sit in LA traffic in their gasoline burning cars, but are scared of public transportation.”
          Only 0.1% of all Americans fly? ;o)

          Riding the H-loop shouldn’t be much different than flying except faster acceleration and a smoother ride. Get in, sit down, watch a movie or nap, get out. They don’t let you look out plane windows.

          We can do both, Michael. Short and long. We need short and long solutions.
          We need cleaner and better short distance public transportation. Electric buses have established a toehold. Some municipalities are starting to buy them in quantities, not just one or two to test. We continue to build other public transportation systems. Self-driving electric cars are likely the other part of the short distance public transportation system. Don’t want to ride with others? Pay something more for the auto-taxi.

          And we need to deal with planes burning oil. Biofuel, synfuel, battery powered planes, HSR, Hyperloop – whichever works best. If the Hyperloop works roughly as Musk calculates then it’s likely to be the winner based on energy/passenger mile, speed and comfort. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

          One plan is for the Hyperloop to use interstate highway land. Double use.

  • Brian

    This bus should replace all dirty diesel and hybrid electric busses. Even in cities like San Francisco, where Muni has trolley busses, with ugly dangerous electric overhead wires, this bus would be a perfect replacement. The problem is the price. Would cities like San Francisco be able to afford these expensive electric busses to replace their fleet of dirty diesel or natural gas busses?

    • Bob_Wallace

      “dangerous” overhead trolley wires?

      Electric buses cost more to purchase (for now) but pay for their cost with fuel savings. Purchase prices should drop as manufacturing volumes rise and as battery prices fall.

      • Brian

        I agree 100%. With volume and mass production, hopefully the price of electric busses will come down dramatically over time like electric car batteries and solar power has. These busses will save cities money because they require less maintenance, are clean, don’t pollute, and the electricity they use is much cheaper than using dirty fossil fuels. Another company, Proterra, an American company based in Colorado is also making electric busses.

        • Coley

          Aye, pity the article is on a Chinese company making inroads into western markets.
          Would really enjoy an article where western EV technology is making inroads into Chinese markets.
          Aye, I know, sour grapes from a Brit watching his country being prostituted before the great god of ‘foreign investment’

          • Bob_Wallace

            You mean something like how Tesla sold 3,044 ModS’s in the first nine months in China? ;o)

            IIRC Buick is a big seller in China. I think GM opened a plant there to supply demand.

          • JamesWimberley

            Every Chinese mobile phone, smartphone and tablet contains a processor licensed from a “Western” company, almost always ARM of Cambridge, England.

          • Coley

            Licensed, but built where?
            And how long before these companies are acquired by the Chinese?

          • super390

            Even if they remain Western, these manufacturing-turned-branding firms route all the earnings to their investors to use to manipulate elections while firing all their workers at home. Why are we surprised that there have been staggering increases in economic inequality over the last 30 years of outsourcing? How well is trickle-down working after all that time?

          • Coley

            It isn’t, I agree with you, however it’s easier for a national govt to exert pressure on a domestic company than an international corporation
            That’s why domestic companies are being swallowed up or bankrupted by said multi nationals.
            We have a situation ( mentioned many times on this site) where multi national companies have, in many cases, greater powers than some governments in directtoning energy strategies!

          • Michael B

            “Trickle down” was a typo this whole time… the actual term, recovered from one of Milton Friedman’s long lost notebooks, was *Trickled on*.

          • Karl the brewer

            Who would have thought it’s nearly 30 yrs old.


          • eveee

            Show off. 🙂

        • Michael B

          And you forgot one potentially HUGE money-making/saving benefit: the $$ they do spend on ‘fuel’ stays in their locality, rather than being sent out (to a multinational, whether domestic or overseas, it almost makes no difference). This is doubly/especially true if the utility is public and owned by the municipality. E-buses (1 s!) also support more local jobs in the production of their fuel. There are almost too many benefits to list!

      • Vincent Loke

        A diesel bus requires an oil change every 6000 miles; cost of parts (oil, filter) and labor to be considered. Other service costs for internal combustion engines are also higher than those for electric motors.

      • wave

        not sure about the price part from what i could gather the byd’s where costing a bit lower then regular diesel 2 years ago also they make them in volume and they are their own battery manufacturer i wouldnt be surprise if they priced them to be price competitive with other manufacturers but actualy are making huge margins on them so you could probably get major discount if you buy a fleets worth

      • eveee

        Pretty sure the fuel savings and lower maintenance already cover the extra expense.

        This study of Stanford electric buses shows the lowest cost per mile for electric from real use data.

        • wave

          couldnt find pics of inside service panels of the bus so cant really say much as the exterior only gives you a little idea of what the tech looks like (roof doesnt seem overcrowded so thats a good sign ).

          as far as saving due to maintenance cost, studies at this point wont give you real accurate numbers all the stuff is under warranty for 4-5 years so you can bet they made sure stuff will “last at least 4 years”
          overly complex system “hybrid ” are gona cost a lot to maintain when they start to get older and lots of operator try to keep buses longer then the 15y average life (smaller ones)

          im kinda partial to those that have the motor integrated in the rear axel
          its just a few hours to drop the entire thing. so you can get a few spare and if the bus got power train issues you can do a quick swap and have it back on the road in the same shift. not sure the monetary value of that but for large scale operator that probably means providing same service with a smaller fleet.

          • eveee

            Yes. You just pointed out one of my favorites, maintenance. EVs will make maintenance much easier. EVs could keep replacing batteries forever. There is little to wear out with little heat and mechanical moving parts. Buses will last longer.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Once electric buses are the norm we may see a rethinking of buses and life expectancy. Why not build a 20 year bus rather than 12 year buses?

            Make the frames very durable. Make everything else easily swapped out. Removed body panels, seats, whatever could be reconditioned and used on another bus as needed.

            A few years back one company that was trying to market a hybrid bus purposed a stainless steel frame to extend the bus life well past the normal. And since there would not be a corrosion issue the structural components could be thinner/lighter.

            Stainless steel and aluminum would be “investments”. Materials that would greatly extend the vehicle life and be recoverable during recycling.

  • JamesWimberley

    I was surprised to learn that BYD put the inverter on the bus rather than in the garage. This will be reassuring to first-time buyers and allows incremental buy-in. I would have thought that if you are switching an entire fleet of 500, garage chargers would work out considerably cheaper.

    A proprietary connector doesn’t matter as urban bus networks are essentially closed ecosystems.

    • Kyle Field

      500 buses need 500 chargers at night. If those chargers are $250k each, that’s HUGE. BYD chargers are low cost and included…

      Agree, the proprietary chargers don’t matter for a bus but was thinking more for their consumer cars which also use their 7 pin standard. I can’t see them doing well without at least a J1772 and another DC fast charging standard.

      • JamesWimberley

        The fixed garage charger can’t possibly cost more than the one in the bus, for equal capacity. It gets interesting if you use fast chargers in the garage, servicing several vehicles during the night. They also give the operator the option of daytime top-ups. All this must be very specific to each city: the route pattern, garage location, etc.

        • Kyle Field

          Exactly – because the hardware is onboard, the fixed chargers are cheap and they can put in extras to optimize and add flexibility at a low cost.

        • eveee

          There is little difference between onboard and fixed garage charger. The J1772 for instance is all about safety. It senses ground faults and makes sure the EV cannot drive off with the charger attached. Things like that. At first I thought the fancy AC J1772 was a waste and expensive. It does cost something. But you don’t want electrocutions in the car or on the ground by service personnel.

          I can tell you from users experience, that charger ground faults are not unknown. Early hobbiiest chargers had common grounds instead of isolation and charged DC. Thats a good way to have a shocking experience.

          Even a DC ground charger would have to have it, so I don’t think there is really any savings. The inverter is the same on or off the bus.

          On a lightweight 5 passenger EV, the inverter might weigh a little and that might be considered. But that weighs against the inconvenience of not having ubiquitous compatible public DC charging available.

          For buses, inverter weight is immaterial. The lug nuts weigh more. (slight exaggeration)

      • Tanner

        Why would a garage mounted charger be any more expensive than a bus mounted charger? Garage chargers can be bigger (no space constraints) and wouldn’t need to put up with movement and potholes.

        As well, the charger will likely outlast the bus. If they’re garage mounted they can continue to be used – bus mounted ones will likely be recycled, at both a monetary and environmental cost.

        • eveee

          Yes. But on a bus, space constraints are not that much. On a small EV, some. But even motorcycles have on board chargers. That shows you how little those factors matter versus the convenience of always being able to plug into a ubiquitous AC source. If you didn’t bring the inverter with you, you would need access to an inverter wherever you went. Thats too much hassle for a consumer.

          And for a bus, the downsides are just too insignificant to matter.

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    • eveee

      Inverters are very light weight compared to motors and batteries. They belong on the vehicle with power in the mains coming from AC.

      You could go with the old style Anderson connector for DC, but they are clunky and require muscle to close. Not really a great thing. Also, high voltage DC is a lot more dangerous than AC. If it arcs, its not going to stop.

      What with modern J1772 and other connectors, there just isn’t that much incentive to go with a non proprietary connection anymore.

      Besides, the issues of charging safely in exposed sites can still exist.

      Still, for a bus, the power is very high, 200kw. I wonder what kind of AC connector they have.

      I wouldn’t recommend DC charging even on buses.

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