Electric double decker buses to hit the streets of London next month

The all-electric version of the iconic double decker London red bus crosses Westminster bridge as a part of the vehicle's lauch event - image courtesy of BYD
The all-electric version of the iconic double decker London red bus crosses Westminster bridge as a part of the vehicle's lauch event - image courtesy of BYD.

London’s iconic red double decker buses will be changed forever with the introduction of the world’s first fleet of all-electric double decker buses.

The city’s transportation agency Transport for London (TfL) is introducing the world’s first zero-emission, fully electric double decker buses to serve the transport routes of London from next month.

The five new buses will enter service on Route 98 – chosen because of its reputation as a pollution hotspot in London.

The new buses will run between Willesden in northwest London and Russell Square from next month, with the silent buses costing ‎€350,000 ($665,832) each to build.

The new double decker buses measure 10.2m (33.46ft) long and can each carry 81 passengers; 54 seated and 27 standing.

TfL chose Chinese electric bus manufacturer BYD to help build the new cleantech upgraded double decker fleet with local firm Alexander Dennis producing the bus body.

Electric bus launch event

TfL celebrated the historic decision to launch the new all-electric double decker fleet by hosting a special ceremony last week at London City Hall.

London’s Deputy Mayor of Environment and Energy, Matthew Pencharz, was in attendance, and said TfL’s deployment of all-electric double deckers had huge benefits for the London public.

“It’s a very exciting moment that is happening here. The running costs are much lower and some of the maintenance and operations costs are much lower on the buses. Also, these buses are zero-emission, zero-tailpipe-pollution and that is a huge benefit for Londoners,” he said.

The new all-electric buses are equipped with BYD-designed and built Iron Phosphate batteries, which can power the buses for over 24 hours and up to 190 miles (305km) of urban driving on the service routes with a single charge.

The buses only need to be recharged for 4 hours each day, which the TfL plans to undertake overnight using low-cost, off peak electricity to help provide additional cost savings to which the electric buses already provide.

The buses’ batteries come deliver 345 kWh of power and come with an industry-benchmark of a 12 year warranty.

Bus battery technology

The BYD Iron-Phosphate Battery is a fire-safe, completely recyclable and incredibly long-cycle technology that has become the core of the Chinese electric bus manufacturers clean energy platform that has expanded into automobiles, buses, trucks, utility vehicles and energy storage facilities.

London is not the only city experimenting with all-electric buses, with the European Union partially funding Citymobil2- a program which is bringing driverless electric buses to various European cities through recent trials.

The Manufacturer first reported about the new electric double decker buses in October 2015 when they were unveiled to the public by Chinese company BYD – the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer.

The unveiling was part of a celebration of UK-China business to mark the state visit to the UK by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

Prior to the unveiling of the all-electric buses, BYD had manufactured more than 5000 electric buses which had logged more than 50 million miles of service, and had been tested out in more than 150 cities.

Electric buses join existing fleet of low carbon London buses

The new fleet of five all-electric double deckers joins the current 22 single deck electric, 8 hydrogen and 1500 hybrid buses that serve London routes.

The world’s first double decker hybrid bus was introduced in London in January 2007.

Hydrogen fuel cell powered buses, (the Mercedes-Benz Citaro), have been on the RV1 London Bus route, which runs between Convent Garden and Tower Gateway station and is operated by Tower Transit, since November 2010.

It was announced in January that two additional Van Hool hydrogen buses will enter service on this route.