BYD Buses Win Washington Electric Bus Contract


BYD Buses win Washington contract

Never heard of BYD? You’re not alone. The Chinese company is big in its home country but less well know elsewhere, especially in the United States. But Warren Buffett is a major stockholder and BYD has built more electric buses than any company in history. It also operates a fleet of electric crossovers in selected US cities as part of local carsharing services, including 200 in Chicago used by Uber drivers.

The Department of Transportation in Washington wrapped up a bid proposal for up to 800 electric buses in 12 different categories in August. BYD buses has been awarded the contract in 10 of those categories. The contract has the potential to be the biggest in US history, since it includes buses from 30 to 60 feet in length for both highway and intra-city applications, as well as long- and short-range on-route charging configurations.

According to Electric Cars Report, BYD is the only bus manufacturer with wireless on-route charging as an option approved by the Washington DOT. This is seen as a visionary move by the state of Washington State, one that clearly establishes it as one of the most environmentally conscious states in the nation. Any transit agency or public institution in Washington, as well as the state of Oregon, is now able to procure electric buses from the RFP, which will greatly simplify the procurement process.

BYD employs more than 15,000 R&D engineers. It has developed a proprietary iron-phosphate battery which boasts the only 12-year battery warranty in the industry. Combined with BYD’s own in-wheel hub motors and regenerative braking system, the BYD battery electric bus reportedly offers the lowest lifecycle cost of ownership. It is very quiet and ensures a comfortable ride without vibrations, jerks, or the noise associated with conventional buses and combustion engines. The bus can also drive for more than 155 miles even in heavy city traffic on a single charge.

As of April 1st, 2015, BYD bus fleets have completed more than 50 million miles of “in revenue service” and have been evaluated by more than 150 cities in 36 countries around the world.

Barcelona’s transit agency director told Gas2 director Zachary Shahan in 2013 that BYD electric buses seemed to have the same lifecycle cost of a conventional diesel bus… but without all of the health and climate problems.

Photo Credit: BYD

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  • Jay Donnaway

    I took a look at the BYD bus during EV Roadmap in Portland. ‘Tis impressive. A follow-up on this article with more detail on ProTerra’s pilot route in Seattle and where the BYD orders wind up would be appreciated.

  • neroden

    I strongly advise that you update this. You should have done your research before reprinting the press release.

    I now have way more detail about what’s going on.

    BYD has NOT “won” this contract in the way in which the press release implies.
    Multiple companies were allowed to win each category.
    What’s going on is that Washington state has bids for a set of “master
    contracts” — they make a list of “approved vendors” for each type of bus, with each “approved vendor” having a pre-priced contract. This doesn’t entail ANY firm commitment to order ANY buses at all.

    From then on, *if* a local agency in Washington wants to buy a bus (including some agencies in Oregon who have signed on to the Washington state system) it is expected to buy a bus from one of the approved vendors using the approved “master contract”. If they want to use a non-approved vendor, they have to prove that the other vendor is cheaper and scores better, *and* the approved vendors get a chance to underbid any other vendor.

    There are categories for several lengths of bus (ranging from 30 ft. to 60 ft.), in “plug-in electric”, and “en-route electric”. (I’m not sure what the differences in those categories were.)

    – BYD was sole approved vendor for 30 ft en-route, 35 ft en-route, and 60 ft en-route.
    – BYD, Proterra, and New Flyer were all approved for 40 ft en route.
    – BYD and GreenPower were approved for 30 ft plug-in, 35 ft plug-in, 45 ft plug-in, and 60 ft plug-in, as well as for the unusual 45 ft high floor category (all other categories are low-floor).
    – BYD, GreenPower, and Proterra were approved for 40 ft plug-in.
    – GreenPower was sole approved vendor for 45 ft plug-in.

    One suspects that New Flyer and Proterra only submitted bids for the 40 ft. categories.