The Netherlands is getting another massive wave of electric buses, thanks to a massive order from Keolis Nederland BV for 259 new buses from BYD. The order, which was inked on December 6th at Keolis’ head office in Deventer, is the largest single order for electric buses in Europe and reveals just how comfortable transit operators around the world are with the prospect of electric vehicles in their fleets.“This is a momentous occasion for BYD,” said BYD Europe Managing Director Isbrand Ho, “and also represents a huge commitment to electric mobility since it becomes the largest European fleet ever switched to electric at one time.”
The new buses will arrive in the Netherlands next summer according to a phase-in delivery schedule to allow the transit operator to gradually check each batch of buses and integrate them into the operational fleet before the next wave arrives. It is a great day in the world when too many electric vehicles showing up at one time becomes the problem we have to solve.
These BYD electric buses look and feel like traditional transit buses, but without all the noxious fumes and clunky noises that typically accompany diesel and natural gas buses. The core of the integration work revolves around charging. Where will the buses be charged? How much will we pay for charging compared to the fuels we previously consumed? Can we generate electricity locally to save money?
To understand the need for charging in a transit fleet, it all starts and ends with the schedule. To integrate electric buses into their fleets, transit operators have different solutions to keeping the buses charged up throughout the day or simply recharging them more slowly overnight. After the daytime schedule is mapped out, the charging solutions necessary to integrate the fleets must be budgeted for, and an engineering team to install and permit the new chargers assigned. This is a critical piece of the electrification of transit that operators often gloss over, getting lost in the sparkly allure of zero emission electric buses.
For this deal, Keolis and BYD worked together to develop a comprehensive plan for the new buses to ensure they will first and foremost meet the transit needs of Keolis. The complete plan looks at the needs of the vehicle and the transit fleet over the full life of the vehicle including operational needs, passenger comforts, and charging.
Keolis Nederland BV purchased BYD’s 8.7-meter midi bus, 12-meter, and new 13-meter electric buses, with plans to put them into service in the back half of 2020. They will provide transit service throughout the Netherlands’ IJssel-Vecht region, including front-line operations in the municipalities of Zwolle, Apeldoorn and Lelystad. 206 of the buses in the deal were for BYD’s best-selling 12-meter bus for more traditional service. All of the buses in the deal will be equipped with pantographs, a unique charging connector that lives on top of the bus and allows for fast charging along routes or at bus depots without the need to plug anything in manually.
The new deal makes BYD an even stronger player in the European bus market, where it has landed deals and made deliveries to customers in more than 10 countries and nearly 60 cities. Along the way, 1,200 new electric buses have been procured for customers as Europeans ramp up efforts to clean up local air quality and take an active role in curbing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.
“It is another milestone for Keolis Nederland and the Keolis Group in developing and deploying electromobility solutions around the world and it reaffirms our commitment to supporting public transport authorities in the transition to sustainability,” Frank Janssen, CEO Keolis Nederland, said. “We’ve chosen BYD due to our excellent experience with their e-buses. These are a fundamental part in our daily operation to the full satisfaction of our passengers and employees. Furthermore we trust in BYD’s expertise as a manufacturer in developing and maintaining battery-packages.”
The integration of more and more electric buses to fleets across Europe is indicative of maturing transit and sales models that are able to fully assess the needs of customers and map out plans to get there with electric buses. This is a monumental planning effort that paved the way for this order for 259 buses and hints at more orders in the hundreds or thousands of buses to come in the future.
“We have worked tirelessly with Keolis to provide a complete transport solution,” said BYD Europe Managing Director Isbrand Ho. “Delivery programmes on this scale can only be achieved through excellent cooperation and by striking up a long-term partnership. Our relationship with Keolis provides an excellent template to explore opportunities with other large fleet operators.”