London ‘world premiere’ of the first pure-electric, double-decker bus

In December 2013 a trial of electric-only London buses began. Electric buses are quieter than conventional models, have zero exhaust emissions and total CO2 emissions are 40% lower over their entire lifespan than conventional diesel buses.

Chinese automotive manufacturer BYD Company Ltd is the world’s largest producer of environmentally friendly pure electric buses, tested in 47 cities worldwide and found to have cost benefits. Two of its single deckers (below) have been in service with Go-Ahead in London for 18 months and can complete a day’s route service on a single battery charge.

byd bus single decker

In October PR Newswire, a news and information distribution service, reported that the first pure-electric, double-decker bus made its ‘world premiere’ appearance in London. This new bus, which causes no localised emissions (and can be totally emission free if run on renewable energy) was developed after Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, challenged BYD to develop an electric double-decker bus.

Unlike their single-decker counterparts, doubledecker buses in London had previously not been able to accommodate batteries on the roof due to the height limits of the vehicle (4.39m). Isbrand Ho, managing director of BYD Auto Europe explains: “In the past, electric vehicle manufacturers produced electric buses with three batteries – at the vehicle’s front, back and top – but this design would not work with the doubledecker bus. BYD’s advanced technology is now able to make the batteries more compact, so the battery on top of the bus is no longer required”.

byd bus double decker

The new double-decker can carry 81 passengers and is fully air conditioned. It will be able to complete up to 190 miles in city traffic conditions on a single charge, allowing recharging of the new compact battery (which takes just four hours) using lower-cost, off-peak electricity.

Transport for London also reports that the city now has a fleet of eight hydrogen fuel buses running on route RV1 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway. Hydrogen fuel buses emit nothing but water into the air.

Denis Naberezhnykh, the head of ultra-low emission vehicle and intelligent transportation system technology at the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory points out that with growing pressure to improve air quality in cities and the impending introduction of the ultra low emission zone in London (2020), these vehicles provide another way of reducing emissions.


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