BYD, a Chinese company that builds batteries and electric vehicles, will begin building electric buses for the United States market. Before these new buses are built though, BYD will be erecting an assembly facility in California to handle production. According to BYD’s senior vice president, Li Ke, this new facility in California will build electric K9 buses. Even while these K9 buses cost anywhere from $500,000 to $600,000 to build, BYD claims it already has orders to fill from Stanford University, Apple, and Los Angeles International Airport.
It remains to be seen where BYD will set up shop in California, but an official announcement is expected some time in March or April of next year. It’s rumored that production will begin in 2014 however, with the ability to build anywhere from 50 to 100 units at first and then rising to 500 units annually by 2015. While BYD has said it will wrangle up workers from nearby its new factory, most of the parts needed to build the K9 will be imported directly from China.
Every new K9 bus will rely on iron-phosphate batteries, which are also built by BYD, and will provide power to all four wheels. BYD expects these batteries to provide each bus with a 186 mile range under “ideal” driving conditions. It’s also estimated that each bus will take up to six hours to recharge when plugged into a standard outlet. It’s expected that California will remain as BYD’s main client for these electric buses for at least the next eight years.