St. Albert To Deploy Fleet Of BYD Electric Buses

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Originally published on EV Obsession.

BYD continues its push towards dominance of the electrified vehicle market with its first electric bus contract in Canada. The municipality of St. Albert has locked in a contract for a fleet of new 35′ BYD K9 electric buses (concept pictured below) to round up the locals and haul them around town.

The BYD K9 will be deployed by St. Albert Transit | Image Credit: BYD

This is an exciting development for BYD and for Canada as the country ramps up efforts to clean up emissions by harvesting the low-hanging fruit that mass transit represents. Mass transit and BYD specifically make the news here regularly because of the nearly guaranteed return on investment from electric buses, thanks to stable routes and predictable savings over the life of the vehicles… not to mention tapping Canada’s hydro-powered electricity to take a chunk out of cancer-causing particulate matter (PM) heavy diesel exhaust from city centers.

St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse shared his enthusiasm about the deal, showing that his city is looking at more than just the financials behind the deal but is perhaps even more excited about the opportunity to reduce emissions:

“We are excited to be deploying these new and innovative buses as part of our transit fleet. Reducing our carbon footprint and minimizing the impact on the environment is another way to maintain our natural environment for our residents and has been a Council priority for a long period of time.”

St. Albert Transit Logo | Image Credit: St. Albert Transit

Getting down to the nuts and bolts of the deal, St. Albert Transit took steps on March 3rd to order 3 BYD K9s, which are expected to arrive in town in late summer or early fall 2016. The municipality has placed an initial order for both local and commuter routes, demonstrating the flexibility and pure range capacity of the BYD buses, which boast 250 kilometers (155 miles) of range per charge.

Another key factor in choosing BYD over the competition was the industry-best 12 year warranty on the battery system. With electric vehicles being so new to mass transit fleets, the warranty provides invaluable peace of mind for officials considering investing a serious chunk of city money in a new cleantech fleet. BYD buses also feature impressive horsepower and throttle responsiveness bundled in a refined solution with proven reliability in implementations around the world.

Finally, the lithium-iron-phosphate chemistry that BYD utilizes in its battery packs performs well in cold climates, with BYD batteries demonstrating in internal testing that they can function down to (and below!) an impressive -40 degrees Celsius.

Macy Neshati, Vice President of BYD Coach and Bus Sales is quick to highlight some of the benefits of electric buses — and EVs in general — that often go unnoticed as city officials typically look for financial wins without realizing that they are getting a full suite of solutions for their city:

We applaud the City of St. Albert for its visionary leadership in demonstrating its commitment to improving air quality with zero-emission all-electric transportation with this action. Additionally, these all-electric buses will help reduce noise pollution on city streets to benefit the residents of St. Albert, and the city will save money on vehicle maintenance and fuel costs.”

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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37 thoughts on “St. Albert To Deploy Fleet Of BYD Electric Buses

  • would that be St. Albert, just outside Edmonton, Alberta in the heart of Canada’s oil country.
    And Edmonton has a few BEV busses and about one third of their bus fleet are hybrid busses.
    The only thing Alberta needs to do now is slowly phase out all their coal power plants, and that they are planning to do.

  • Electric buses in the heartland of the oil sands. (Edmonton suburb) At least they are doing something to try to balance their contributions to environmental catastrophe. They signed the contract for these buses while they were still fat from oil profits…that is all gone now. The Alberta economy is being squeezed dry without its tar sand profits.

    • The oil price crash is having its way with tar sands/oil sands/oil shale… An odd way to bring about positive change but I’ll take it 🙂

      • Yes, a dramatic stick in the eye of the cyclops. No money, everybody goes away, and the gooey tar goes back to sleep for another billion years.

        • Perhaps merely another 60,000 years, fossil fuels resurrected at that time to possibly ward off the next ice age predicted by the Milankovitch cycles.

          • True. It is interesting that we are entirely able to prevent an ice age from recurring now. And we are entirely able to prevent this warming fiasco…if only we sober up in time. Roaring drunk on petroleum.

          • Actually, it looks like there’s enough CO2 in the air already to prevent the next glaciation. We are quivering on the brink of preventing the glaciation after that, 100,000+ years into the future.

          • I fear you are right. Even if we can get to a zero carbon economy before modern civilization is sent into a tailspin
            there will still be a need to reffix a huge amount of atmospheric C02.

  • electric buses already prouve there economic benefit plus environmental and health but the orders are very shy

    • It takes awhile to get the word out and for people to get comfortable with the technology.

      • That explains the gradual takeup of electric cars. Bus operators are professionals. They have seen the results of the pilots all over the world. Repeating these is a waste of money. The training and charging infrastructure has economies of scale. Go for it!

      • Just keep writing the articles on buses. I think they are very interesting.

      • I think the value proposition isn’t there yet either. At best they’re equal or one can calculate a long payback that makes sense – barely. Like the rest of the EV market, when prices become more compelling, game over. Agencies are tinkering to be able to greenwash and say “look we’re environmental”, or to meet a compliance mandate. And it sure doesn’t hurt to gain some operational experience to get comfortable.

        • The value proposition is absolutely there. The key point is the city start-stop duty cycle. Fuel engines are absolutely horrendours for this; electric motors are perfect for it. The elimination of idling and regeneration of energy when slowing down saves *monumental* amounts of energy.

          For highway buses diesel is still financially better. But for a start-stop city bus the battery-electrics are really no-brainers.

          The fuel cost savings alone pays for the higher upfront cost; maintenance costs are also reduced substantially; the passengers actually prefer the electric buses, so happier customers and more revenue; they help the cities comply with EPA local air-pollution regulations, which most of them aren’t complying with right now; and the buses should last longer than diesel buses, too!

  • Three buses. Drip … drip … drip. When will a real city outside China place a real order for 500?

    • These articles are an emotional roller coaster. A Fleet of electric buses just to find out Fleet translates to 3 buses…

      Electric buses can’t get here soon enough. Every time I see one of these hulking machines spewing diesel fumes I long for the switch to occur at a more meaningful level!

    • Well, 500 is well outside the order range of most agencies. Chicago is buying 30. Antelope Valley Transit is buying 85. It’s a start.

      • It’s the range of the orders from several Chinese cities for BYD. It has competitors in China, but they are not trying for exports, so we don’t hear about them.

        • Good point; for example when Chicago or LA places an order for diesel, it’s probably 500. At least this is a start. and the price must come way down – agencies are mostly buying these as “compliance buses” or for some greenwashing. Once the $ proposition becomes more compelling, game over. Kind of like the rest of the EV market.

          • Actually, Chicago and LA order less than that at one time — 125 to 425.

            The typical big-city bus order in the US is about 300. Chinese cities *do* order more buses at once.

            The smaller agencies seem to be more willing to buy battery-electrics; I couldn’t say why.

  • What will the range be with the heaters running in Edmonton? I say knock 50% off the rated range. At least they only ordered a “fleet” of 3.

    It will be an important real world test in an extreme climate.

    • There’s the Volvo trick. For extreme conditions add a liquid fuel heater.

      • Do you have any stats on how emissions of an electric bus plus liquid fuel heater compare to a diesel and natural gas bus heated by waste heat from the engine?

        • Biofuel. Volvo uses an ethanoyl heater.

          Use a heat pump. Use battery produced heat as part of the input and kick it with some sort of biofuel as needed.

          • Heat pumps crap out long before -40. They have improved the bottom end, so they can function now at +5F / -15C, but continuing below that they just don’t work. Remember this is Edmonton area. The amount of energy consumed by the heater in these climates approaches that of the drive train itself.

          • Again, use a liquid fuel heater to supplement the heat pump.

            As Ven points out, it’s not a 24/365 problem but limited to a few days a year.

        • In super-cold climates, for an automobile, the radiator thermostat may never open up at all. Probably the same for a bus because it’s such a large box. In other words, if the engine is 40% efficient thermodynamically (diesel’s best day – gasoline never gets there), you’re using nearly 60% energy you put in the tank to heat the vehicle. So the liquid fuel heater would render the environmental proposition of this whole thing null. People need to spend some time in -40 to fully understand – it’s just a different planet than most folks are familiar with.

          • Yes, I’m fully aware that I don’t understand the dynamics of living at -40° weather (℃ or ℉ 😀 ). That’s, uh, why I asked the question…

          • Yep, I haven’t spent much time in those climates, but have experienced several stints. Even in chicago, you’ll crank the car heater on absolute full and the thermostat will not get to where it opens to use the radiator. Having said that, my experience is purely observational based on rental cars and cabs in the above climates and not on actually taking data. As a side-effect of EVs, we might see cars with better thermal insulation in the future. Its simply not been an issue wiht an infinite heat source historically. A bus would be a lot easier to thermally insulate.

          • Interesting thought about better insulated cars. But not the busses, opening few large dors every few minutes makes almost any investment in better insulation non economic.

          • Edmonton can be nasty cold however the average winter temperatures are about 0 F. not 40 below. Minus 40 might happen on 2 or 3 occasions in a year, although much less now than 30 years ago. So these buses will not often be faced with that situation.

          • But I would think the buses must be designed to handle -40 well in the worst case situation, no? Freezing riders are unhappy customers – at least, *I* would be. But of course I live in Texas, so “freezing” to me is more like 40, not -40. 🙂

          • People dress for the cold. Getting inside, out of the weather makes it a lot easier to keep yourself warm with only your body heat.

          • If you say so. God willing, I’ll never find out in person. 🙂

  • wait arent the k9 the 40 feet and the k7 the 35’s or i might be confused

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