Warren Buffett Backed Automaker BYD Moves on New York
New York City has started testing an electric bus by Warren Buffet’s BYD to reduce the 50 million gallons of diesel fuel its 5,700 buses use each year.
The bus needs a four-hour charge to be ready for service, and it can go approximately 150 miles on a single charge, which is being tested under New York City conditions with the pilot run, Ortiz said.
A BYD electric bus costs approximately $850,000, Ortiz said, compared to the $400,000 for a regular diesel bus. Though more expensive, Ortiz said he anticipates the electric bus will be more cost-efficient to run.
The test run is scheduled to last two months and then the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) will evaluate if the bus meets the city’s needs, according to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz.
“The test will go a long way in letting us know whether the bus can operate under heavy traffic and other conditions that are specific to New York City,” Ortiz said.
The bus will have to face “the twin challenges of operating in the stop and go traffic of Manhattan while maintaining high levels of passenger comfort and operational performance,” according to a statement on the MTA website.
“We would certainly see a decrease in maintenance costs, simply due to the fact that we won’t need to maintain both engines and transmissions,” he said. “This bus essentially has two motors that operate and propel the vehicle, but no engine and no transmission.”
“This test continues the MTA’s commitment to examine new, cleaner and more efficient bus propulsion technologies that include hybrids, compressed natural gas (CNG), clean diesel and now potentially all electric-battery drive,” said Darryl Irick, president of MTA Bus, in a statement on the MTA website.
The bus was manufactured by Shenzhen-based BYD, which stands for “Build Your Dreams” and is backed by investment giant Warren Buffett. Its vehicles are used in Colombia, Poland and Hong Kong. A BYD electric bus started operation in Tel Aviv last month, and fleets of electric taxis were launched in Bogota and Hong Kong, in September and May, respectively.
In April, BYD was awarded a $12.1-million contract with California’s Long Beach Transit Authority to produce 10 zero-emission, all-electric buses, and then in July, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) on announced a contract with BYD for the manufacture and delivery of up to 25 all-electric buses. The contract is part of the county’s $30-million clean air bus technology pilot project.
Under the contract, Metro will initially purchase five all-electric buses. After testing and evaluation, the transit agency could then choose to buy up to 20 additional buses.
The BYD contract contains a local jobs component in which final assembly will take place at its new plant in Lancaster, California, the international firm’s first manufacturing facility in the United States. It plans to build as many as 1,000 plug-in electric buses a year in the Mojave Desert city.
In August, BYD said that its net profit increased 25 times in the first half, as its three core businesses in the vehicle, cell phone and new energy sectors all saw strong growth.
The growth comes after the company reported net profit slumped 94.15 percent year-on-year to 81 million yuan in 2012, the lowest level in at least four years.
In the first half, BYD sold about 250,000 vehicles in China, up 24.72 percent year-on-year, doubling the domestic market’s year-on-year growth of 12.3 percent.
The strong performance was the result of the company’s efforts to gradually improve the technology, quality and branding of its products in the past three years, the report said.
Even though BYD made its name in the global automotive market with leadership in the electric-vehicle segment, analysts said the company’s business will mainly depend on vehicles with traditional internal combustion engines, which contributed more than half of the company’s total profits.
BYD Motors President Stella Li has said the company expects to produce 50 buses a year by 2015 and to continue increasing production, with the intention of reaching the plant’s capacity of 1,000 buses annually within two decades. The buses will be powered by BYD’s iron-phosphate batteries, which will be manufactured at another plant near the Lancaster bus factory.
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