Alas for the unfortunate people of Indianapolis
In an update on the dispute between BYD and Indianapolis, it seems that now – because BYD’s very popular buses did not provide the promised range – IndyGo has ordered 13 diesel buses elsewhere and cancelled an order placed with BYD in December 2019 for five more electric buses.
That electric vehicles do not perform as well as their advertised ranges when it is cold out, is nothing new, but Indiana public transport provider appears to be having trouble providing emission-free public transport as promised. The matter first came to our attention in May last year, when IndyGo announced it had found the range of BYD buses did not give the contractually-given range in cold weather. As a result, IndyGo announced they had reached an agreement with BYD to install and pay for wireless charging infrastructure. The deal included wireless charging hardware for buses and the equipment for three charging pads along battery-powered routes.
At the time, 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.” He explained: “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.” At the time IndyGo published the range results, showing that the lowest result was 152 miles on a single occasion.
When announcing the purchase of the diesel buses, Justin Stuehrenberg, VP for planning at IngyGo reiterated the same range test results: “We made it clear to the company they must be accountable to our contract. Testing showed that the buses were not capable of performing as well as planned under cold weather conditions, as the range at -10 C was found to be 152 miles, compared to the 275-mile range promised at 0 C.” IndyGo did not mention how it had worked out with wireless charging hardware and charging pads along the routes.
IndyGo President and CEO Inez Evans said they have not paid for any of the buses, only the parts to keep the existing ones running. In addition, to those familiar with electric vehicles will know that they have lower running and maintenance costs as their fossil-fuelled counterparts, so thus far the company seems to be tiding over well with the dispute. Evans said they are in discussion with another electric bus company, New Flyer. However, on 12 February, during a hearing in front of the Municipal Corporations Committee, Evans said the BYD buses are performing better than New Flyer vehicles, which have an average range of 130 to 150 miles.