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BYD penetrates market for electric buses in US

By June Chang in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2016-07-06 11:04

BYD - literally meaning "Build Your Dreams" - centers its US business on the rapidly growing demand for electric buses, solar and wind power and other clean and renewable energy.

BYD Auto (US) continues to penetrate the rechargeable bus business among environmentally minded public transit agencies in California, and launched test fleets of 20 e6 plug-in electric hatchbacks used by taxi companies in Chicago and 50 in New York City, said Michael Austin, vice-president for BYD Auto (US), adding that the company has received orders from customers across the nation.

BYD's US factory, which opened in 2013 in Lancaster, north of Los Angeles, is on track to deliver 300 this year. The first two BYD buses produced several years ago went to the nearby Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA), which serves more than 450,000 residents in the cities of Palmdale and Lancaster and northern LA County.

In February, the AVTA board of directors approved a contract with BYD for up to 85 electric buses by 2018. All 85 buses will have a range of more than 160 miles on a single battery charge. AVTA is also installing a wireless charging system to extend the fleet's range to ensure the electric buses will be able to serve the agency's longest rural routes.

Los Angeles-based BYD Motors will build and deliver a variety of all-electric bus models, including 14 60-foot-long articulated buses that can carry 120 people with a range of up to 200 miles on one charge, 30 commuter coaches and 41 40-foot standard buses.

The 40-foot buses cost $660,000, compared with $500,000 for a diesel hybrid, according to the agency's executive director, Len Engel. But maintenance is cheaper: Most buses need new tires after as little as 20,000 miles but the BYD vehicles are still on their first set after 50,000 miles.

Many jobs are expected to be created at BYD as a result of AVTA's order. There are more than 300 jobs in the city of Lancaster now. By the end of the year, it will be 500 and by 2018 up to 1,000.

According to Austin, AVTA is "the first transit company in the US to completely convert to zero emissions electric bus. ...

"Pure-electric powered transportation is no longer in the future - it's here now," said Stella Li, president of BYD Motors. "I hope other transit agencies in California and across the country take note and follow the example AVTA has set."

Other buyers include public transit agencies in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Gardena in California, Denver and St. Albert in western Canada.

Several Silicon Valley technology companies are talking with BYD about possible double-deck commuter buses for employees with coffee bars, leather interiors, video games and work stations, said Peter Mobley, BYD's marketing director for North America.

Outside North America, BYD buses are in use at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport and in Japan, Hong Kong, Finland, Denmark and Uruguay.

In 2015, for the first time BYD Auto contributed more than half of the parent company's revenue and surpassed sales from batteries, solar panels, mobile phone components and power-storage technology, BYD's traditional business segments.


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