Two headlines recently caught my eye:
“L.A. Metro to Purchase Its First Electric Buses for Los Angeles Country Transit Riders”
“Europe’s Largest Zero-Emissions, Electric Bus Contract Awarded to BYD”
In the case of the LA purchase, it is for up to 25 electric buses. This is part of a $30-million project that LA is running to help test clean air prototype buses prior to 2016, when the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority will make a large procurement of new buses.
The buses that it is buying for this initial transaction are from BYD. There is possibility that L.A. Metro will get 20 more.
In the case of the European contract, it is for 35 buses that will be used to transfer passengers between terminals at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. And as the headline indicates, the buses are being sourced from BYD.
BYD is, according to the company, “the fastest-growing Chinese automotive and green energy technology enterprise.”
BYD develops batteries for electric vehicles using iron-phosphate chemistry. It develops wheel motors, too.
In China, the company has produced 1,000 electric buses. There are 200 BYD buses rolling in the streets of Shenzhen.
The buses for Amsterdam and LA have a range of 155 miles. A full charge via AC charging technology that the company has developed requires just five hours.
Anyone who has read The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen knows, technology disruptions tend to start at the bottom and work their way up. Talk to people in the U.S. about the prospects of Chinese cars for American roads—even knowledgeable ones, knowledgeable as the people who worked at the disk drive companies that Christensen wrote about—and you’ll generally get some variant on a guffaw.
But think about the bottom up. Think about the development of the full-size, 12-meter BYD ebus. Think about the battery technology. Think about the wheel motors. Think about the learnings that can be acquired by racking up mile after mile (or kilometer after kilometer) in daily service. Hard service.
And then think about the capabilities in the U.S. to produce electric vehicle battery systems.
Or maybe you don’t want to think about it.