First-ever electric double-decker London red bus

Posted on 21 Oct 2015 by Tim Brown

The first ever all-electric double decker iconic London Red Bus has been unveiled to the public by Chinese company BYD.

Unveiled at Lancaster House in London as part of a celebration of UK-China business to mark the state visit to the UK by Chinese President Xi Jinping, the new electric London red bus is one of five to be operated by Metroline which will enter service on TfL’s (Transport for London) Route 98 before the end of the year.

The new bus can carry 81 passengers and is fully air conditioned. It will be able to complete up to 190 miles in city traffic conditions on a single charge, allowing recharging (which takes just four hours) using cheap off peak electricity.

London’s 9,000 strong bus fleet carries 6.5 million passengers a day, more demanding than Paris and New York combined. Two pure electric BYD single deckers have been in successful trial service with Go-Ahead on two TfL routes for almost two years and recently BYD secured an order for a further 51 single decker electric buses for operation by Go-Ahead.

“The Mayor of London challenged us that he did not believe an electric double decker was technically feasible but we took up the challenge and in less than two years created the bus you are seeing today”, said Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD Europe. “This is a totally emissions free product which will give Londoners a world leading position in its efforts to improve air quality”.

Significantly, the order marks the first stage of a partnership between BYD and Alexander Dennis – with BYD providing its battery and electric chassis technology and Alexander Dennis its strong experience in bus bodybuilding – with final assembly of the complete buses being carried out at its plant in Falkirk, Scotland.

The partnership was strengthened with the signing of wide ranging agreements between the two companies including a £660m deal between BYD and Alexander Dennis.

The joint venture agreement envisages an initial contract between the two bus giants to build 200, 12-metre single deck buses per annum, representing turnover of around £660m over the next 10 years.

However, no sooner was the ink dry on the agreement than both companies confirmed that they are already in advanced discussions with a view to extending their alliance to include double deck buses, a sector in which Alexander Dennis is a renowned world leader. When this happens there is potential to triple the scale of the current deal to almost £2bn.

The BYD-Alexander Dennis collaboration deal was signed today by Wang Chuanfu, Founding Chairman of BYD, and Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of Alexander Dennis, with both men confirming that their ultimate objective is to transform global transport systems to pure electric, emission-free buses.

The  development  of  the  BYD  Iron Phosphate (or “Fe”) Battery, a fire-safe, completely recyclable and incredibly long-cycle battery has become the core of BYD’s clean energy platform that has expanded into automobiles, buses, trucks, utility vehicles and energy storage facilities.

Commenting on the new double decker, Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director for Surface Transport, said: “BYD is a big player in this market and has invested heavily in developing the battery technology and also battery management technology. BYD has excellent facilities which I have seen for myself for manufacturing and testing.

He added: “It is also exciting to see BYD work in partnership with Alexander Dennis who has a well-established reputation in London and Europe. So, this is an exciting time to be enhancing the fleet with rapid developments in battery technology and benefitting from BYD’s research and development in this area.”