It’s hard to think of a use case more suited to an EV than a school bus. I’ve talked about this before — set routes that generally aren’t too long, set use periods with long recharge times in between, stop-and-go driving, and so on. The idea that we’re still taking kids to and from school in loud, smoky, thirsty diesels is, well, stupid, so I’m happy to see any and all attempts to get EV school buses, like this new one from BYD.
Most of you likely know BYD as a massive carmaker in China, but they’re also building electric buses right here in America, the ancestral home of both the Whopper and Tyne Daly.
This new EV bus is one of the more common kinds of school buses, the Type A, which can carry up to 30 students. This is smaller than the most common class of bus, the Type C, but is still in very widespread usage.
BYD’s Class A bus seats up to 30, can be equipped with a liftgate, and has a range of up to 140 miles — more than enough for the vast majority of bus routes, which average about 30 miles.
The buses use a lithium iron phosphate battery, and are capable of bi-directional charging. As BYD’s press release explains:
“Just like our Type D bus introduced last year, our Type A bus bi-directional charging capability is a game changer,” said Samuel Kang, BYD’s Head of Total Technology Solutions. “School buses can be charged overnight when energy demand is low, and clean emission free energy can be fed back into the classroom during school hours when the bus is parked keeping classrooms well-lit and students and teachers plugged-in.”
That’s handy! Perpetually-broke school systems may be able to save some money by using power from off-peak times, in addition to BYD’s claimed 60 percent fuel cost savings compared to diesel buses. BYD also claims a 60 percent reduction in maintenance costs.
The buses also should be pretty safe, with 3-point seat belts, integrated child seats for little kids, and something BYD calls
Predictive Stop Arm™, which monitors approaching traffic and notifies students as they exit the bus when it is safe to cross.
This is vastly different than the seat belt-less deathtrap buses I grew up with, which were sometimes driven by high school burnout kids. I’m serious, that was a thing.
School buses are one of the easiest applications for EV fleets, and should prove to provide the most beneficial returns. Any steps taken to move this ahead, I welcome, so way to go, BYD.