I spoke to Mike Conner, in charge of training Long Beach Transit on the K9 and its operation. He told me the advantage of an AC system is that it can be plugged into almost any industrial 480V outlets straight off the grid. DC systems, however, require dedicated fast-charging stations that convert the grid AC electricity to DC. Those stations start off at $40,000 for an entry-level one and beyond for more sophisticated chargers. AC charging means the city can charge its buses anywhere along the route where a high-voltage station can be found. It also means the charger is onboard and not at dedicated locations. This means BYD’s AC charging solution is highly flexible for fleet managers.
This makes the BYD K9 a user-friendly bus that also saves money on infrastructure, maintenance, and operations. And since we’re talking about infrastructure, we don’t expect bus drivers to casually get out of the driver’s seat at a bus stop and handle a 480V fast charging cable many times a day. BYD and Long Beach chose the WAVE wireless charging system, for that task.
BYD K9, Technically Speaking
A few other aspects surprised me about the BYD K9. For one thing, it only weighs 30,900 lbs — compared to an LNG Bus, which weighs in at 32,000 lbs. The K9 seats 42 and is electronically limited to 60 mph with a range of 120 to 150 miles. Most buses in Long Beach average 80 to 100 miles a day on a normal route. A full AC charge takes anywhere from 3 to 4 hours. The battery pack is under warranty for 12 years and is then recycled by BYD.