The electric bus wave is upon us and cities are very eager to use them to paint a greener face. Companies such as BYD and Proterra are taking center stage and bitterly fighting for this new lucrative market. In fact, both romanced the city of Long Beach in California (my home base) for some time. The BYD K9 edged out the latter, so we are exploring it in more detail after joining for its maiden trip.
Long Beach California, The Progressive Californian City
Long Beach is known for many things in the US, but one thing it is rarely known is for being a very progressive city at the forefront of alternative energy. As far back as 1972, the city had started to diversify the energy sources for its fleet vehicles by embracing liquefied natural gas, LNG. We won’t get into LNG, but should you need a refresher, Wikipedia gives a good overall description of it.
Pretty soon, Long Beach switched many of its street sweeping and other official vehicles to CNG. What’s interesting to keep in mind is that it happened a year or two before the 1973–1974 petroleum crisis that caught the US by surprise. I interviewed the then city manager Carlos Velasquez who proudly told me in an interview back in 2008 that the city was continuing its alternative energy push.
Back then, Long Beach was one of the first to hack its official Toyota Prius cars into plug-in hybrids (PHEV) with the Hy-Motion kit. Remember these guys? And the then Mayor, Bob Foster, who came from Southern California Edison, was the only mayor to my knowledge to drive his original-series Toyota RAV4 EV to work. To say Long Beach is unique and progressive is a slight understatement. And yes, I’m partial. I live here.