BYD launches an electric school bus with two-way charging
As big diesel-burning behemoths that move slowly through areas crowded with small children, school buses are a type of vehicle that is ripe for electrification. Chinese automotive giant BYD is now lending its expertise to the matter with the launch of a battery-electric bus with innovative bi-directional charging tech that could cut into the carbon footprint of the schools that it services.
The new Type-D bus from BYD joins the number of electric school buses we've seen over the last few years, from Daimler and Canada's Lion Bus, among others. Available in lengths of 35, 38 and 40 ft (10, 11.5 and 12 m), the eco-friendly student-mover can seat up to 84 and features dual motors powered by a lithium-iron-phosphate battery that allows for 155 miles (250 km) of travel on each charge.
The company has incorporated some advanced tech to keep students safe, including collision avoidance and a 360-degree monitoring system that detects nearby pedestrians and cyclists when the bus is moving at low speeds. There's also a "Predictive Stop Arm," which monitors surrounding road traffic and alerts students of potential dangers before they hop off.
In the interests of driver experience, there is a telescopic steering column, "comfort" seats, and easy access to control switches and the air conditioning system.
Where the D-Type bus gets interesting is the inclusion of bi-directional charging. The idea with this is that the bus can be charged up overnight when demand and rates are lower, and then when it is parked during the day, feed its surplus energy into the school's electrical supply.
“From the beginning, our team has always been focused on many key features,” says Samuel Kang, BYD’s Head of Total Technology Solutions. “We believed the Type D electric bus needed to be appealing to kids while at the same time offer the upmost safety features and driver ergonomics, be equipped with a safe, high-performance battery, and have plenty of storage capacity for road trips. The BYD Type D school bus achieves all those goals.”
Currently, there are only renders and no word yet on pricing or when the D-Type bus might reach production, but BYD is no small fry, providing China with hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles each year. The reveal also comes at a time when the US government is taking a bolder approach to vehicle electrification, including the more than half a million vehicles making up its federal fleet.