BYD Sells Electric Buses to LA Metro, Plans More eBus Models in U.S.

By · June 28, 2013

BYD e bus

BYD will deliver up to 25 electric buses to LA Metro. (Photo via China Daily)

China’s BYD Motors plans to introduce a pure electric passenger car in the U.S. may have stalled, but the company’s pure electric buses are charging into the U.S. market. BYD just signed an agreement to deliver up to 25 electric buses to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority.

Those transit buses are just the first in a series of pure electric buses the vehicle maker plans to sell in the U.S., BYD vice president of fleet sales Brendan Riley told PluginCars.

“It is very important for us to have our buses on U.S. roads,” said Riley.

The deal with LA Metro calls for an initial delivery of five of BYD’s 40-ft pure electric buses. The city will test those on a variety of routes to see where pure electric buses work best, said Riley. It will then have the option to purchase up to 20 more.

“Los Angeles has the largest alternative fuel fleet in the world as far as we know,” said Riley. “If any metro transit authority is going to adopt electric, Los Angeles will be the one.”

The transit authority will use money from its $30 million clean air bus technology project to purchase the BYD buses. It initially wanted to buy 30 buses, said Riley, but decided to use some of the money to refurbish six gas-electric buses to super low emission bus standards.

BYD was selected through a competitive process that involved submitting a proposal to the Transit Authority and being evaluated against other companies, said Riley. “They scored us; objectively BYD was the best,” he said.

The buses will be assembled at BYD’s new plant in Lancaster, Calif. Delivery should begin in the Spring of 2014, said Riley. As no federal funds were used, the buses BYD produces for the LA Transit Authority will not have a local content requirement, said Riley. The Los Angeles buses do have a local jobs requirement, however, which will be met by assembling the buses in Lancaster.

This is the second transit deal for BYD in the U.S. It sold 10 electric buses to Long Beach Transit earlier this year. Federal funding was used for part of the purchase so that sale met a 60% Made in America requirement.

More BYD eBuses Coming to the U.S.

BYD plans to assemble a variety of pure electric buses at the Lancaster plant, said Riley. Next to arrive will be a 26-ft. bus. BYD aims to start assembly in late 2013 or early 2014, he said. Also planned: A 60-ft articulated bus in the third or fourth quarter of 2014 and, at some point, a 45-ft long-distance tour bus.

“There are a lot of transit authorities,” said Riley.

BYD ran into some trouble predicting when its e6 pure electric passenger car would arrive on American shores. Hopefully these additional buses will get here on schedule.

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