This week in Houston at the 2014 American Public Transportation Expo, Chinese automaker BYD revealed the Lancaster eBus, which it claims is the world’s largest electric vehicle. At 60-feet in length and designed and built in the U.S., BYD hopes its articulated can cut out a large slice of the public transportation pie.
Designed and built for two years in the California city of Lancaster, BYD claims a driving range of 170+ miles with a full load of 120 passengers, which the company says is enough juice to last a full day. During off-peak hours, recharging can be done between 2 and 4 hours, meaning the eLancaster can get right back to work before the next shift starts. BYD says that company testers have traveled as far as 750 miles in 24 hours using fast charging systems in earlier bus designs.
Alongside the 60-foot bendy bus BYD also debuted a second-generation 40-foot bus that has since gone to work for the Antelope Valley Transit Authority. But the real key technology here is the iron-phosphate batteries at the heart of the bus, which are totally recyclable and more fire-resistant than typical lithium-ion batteries. BYD claims that even after 10,000 charge cycles, the batteries maintain 70% of their initial capacity, allowing for a typical lifespan of about 25 years. Add to that extremely low operating costs (to drive 1,500 miles only cost testers about $200 worth of electricity) and you’ve got an extremely cost effective form of public transportation that gets continuously greener as the grid becomes greener too.
But BYD isn’t the only company making a go at green public transit, as America’s own Proterra has managed to convince several municipalities that their electric buses are the way to go. Being able to lay claim to the title of world’s largest EV may look good on paper, but it still comes down to dollars and cents.