BYD installing wireless charging in Indianapolis to boost disappointing
range of its electric buses
May. 24th 2019  


Electric bus maker BYD has to install and pay for a wireless charging
infrastructure upgrade in Indianapolis after its buses experienced
“lower-than-expected distances on one charge” during testing.

Indianapolis Public Transportation Corporation IndyGo announced it reached
an agreement with BYD to get the new infrastructure. BYD will install
wireless charging hardware for the buses, in addition to three wireless
inductive charging pads along bus routes.

During testing, IndyGo realized low temperatures were causing a dramatic
dropoff in predicted range. Justin Stuehrenberg, IndyGo vice president of
capital projects and planning, said:

    “We anticipated that vehicle range would depend on temperature, but the
contract requires a 275-mile range at 0 degrees. Our team identified several
options to address the issue and worked closely with BYD to determine the
most feasible resolution. At the same time, we made it clear to the company
they must be accountable to our contract. Numerous test days this spring
resulted in range performance at and above the contractually required 275
miles on a single charge. To date, the best range of any one test was 307
miles on a single charge.”

Many of those tests didn’t approach the required 275 miles, usually ending
somewhere in the low 200-mile range, as the range report from IndyGo
reveals. On one frigid day, range was limited to 152 miles.

BYD’s buses will now periodically charge for 10-20 minutes at the three
wireless locations. IndyGo claims it can be done without interrupting
service, as drivers will take scheduled breaks with no passengers on board
during those times.

This isn’t the only time BYD’s buses have encountered range issues.
Albuquerque opted to “reject and return” 15 BYD electric buses last year.
The buses experienced range, braking, and electrical issues, the Albuquerque
Journal reported. Albuquerque then decided to order diesel buses.

Indianapolis is pushing forward with the wireless charging plan instead.
Stuehrenberg said a bus system in Washington state uses a similar wireless
system that works in any weather, according to an IndyStar report.

IndyGo’s Red Line is aiming to be the nation’s first battery-electric bus
rapid transit route, and it’s set to launch Sept. 1. IndyGo plans to operate
a 100 percent electric bus fleet by 2035.
Electrek’s Take

We’d like to stress that this sort of thing is not a problem for
all-electric buses, but it does seem to be a bit of a problem for BYD. The
Chinese manufacturer has sold many buses to other countries, as well — see
our Latin America electric bus update from earlier today.

We’re hoping the manufacturer can resolve its issues — not due to any sort
of allegiance to that particular company, but because we don’t need more
obstacles to widespread bus adoption, especially in the US. Any repeat of
Albuquerque would be a big setback.

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