Saturday, 9 March 2013

Electric city

Here I am with the BYD E6 passenger car
shortly before taking it on the test track

Another day and another city – I am in Hong Kong. However my true destination was the Chinese city of Shenzhen, a two hour car journey.

The previous time I made this journey I was with Lyndon Rees, MD Citybus in Hong Kong. We were aboard a Leyland Olympian three axle double decker on an inaugural cross-border service linking the two cities. 

Many years later the former British colony is now part of China but as a Special Administrative Region. It still has a border as there is no automatic passage between the two which have different political systems. Last time I came here the border was a hut and a couple of officials. Now it resembles the vehicle approach to the Channel Tunnel - a modern, multi-laned arrangement. 

Soon to be seen in London the standard BYD
single-decker model

I'm here to visit BYD - the company building two electric buses for use on routes 507 and 521 this summer. BYD has extensive experience in battery technology. If you have a booster battery for your mobile phone then chances are BYD made it. 

After a faultless long drive in a real electric taxi my
driver insists on being photographed with flag!
They are already producing electric vehicles. Multiple production lines of passenger cars are making thousands and their home city has a fleet as taxis. Local drivers praised the E6 model and they are operating very successfully. Taxi drivers are a sceptical bunch all over the world and Shenzhen is no exception. The arrangement here is that BYD hires them to drivers to protect them from any unforeseen costs. However the vehicles have been so successful that the drivers are asking to buy them so they can benefit from the exceptional fuel consumption and low running costs.
Here by the Shenzhen central bus terminal
four single deckers all on charge.
Full-size single deckers are also in production. They are familiar in the city and elsewhere - increasingly around the world. The one I rode on was inevitably quiet but otherwise very normal.

EVs are coming into their own now as battery technology is developing as is the software to manage them properly. Carefully managed batteries last for years if they are used correctly.

Buses provide a particular challenge for EVs. The huge demand of auxiliaries (air conditioning, doors, demisters, etc can exceed the power requirements for traction. And there is the problem of heating. Using battery power to generate heat is wasteful, whilst carrying a small diesel generator to do just that rather defeats the object of no engine/zero emissions in the first place. However these technical issues are being addressed and each new version of the vehicle is a marked improvement on the previous one.

 So after a fascinating day seeing all of BYD's activities and discussing with their experts the science and where it is going, I headed by car back to Hong Kong - and my last day.


  1. I will be looking forward to the Electric Buses running in London. Also it will be the first to have Chinese built buses to run on London bus service.

    I hope there is a Double Decker electric bus coming out.

    Not to mention about China, Macedonia have their own style of the Routemaster (without the open platform) But it have wheels right behind the cab and a half cab bonnet. Also a dual staircase. Made in China by Yutong. There is about 202 Skopje Routemasters and also another 15 of them will be open top as well. So it costs about €51,000,000.

    Might never know we would get an electric double decker bus in form of the Macedonia routemaster but it have to be right hand drive.

    I hope you enjoyed your trip around the world. :)

  2. We have solar panels for electrical energy too, I never realised the night time electricity useage thing. I will have to try it and see if it makes a difference. We are well and truely in credit with ours as well, and with a family of 5 it is a hige help, even with the initial outlay, diesel generator for sale.I have predicted we will pay that off within 3 to 4 years (by having no electricity bills). Maybe even sooner with your suggestion!

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