Currently reading: BYD aims to replace Routemaster with 400-mile EV London bus
The BD11 has a battery capacity of up to 532kWh - the largest of any commercial EV currently available in the UK

The new BYD BD11 double-decker bus is tipped to replace London's Routemaster with a maximum range of more than 400 miles and high levels of passenger comfort.

Launched today at the London Bus Museum, the Chinese firm's latest electric bus arrives 11 years after it first launched a bus in the UK and shortly after it delivered its 1800th bus here. Its fleet has now racked up more than 18 million miles in service.

The BD11 has a total battery capacity of upto 532kWh - the largest of any electric commercial vehicle currently available in the UK.  

Usable capacity is pegged at 457kWh, and although BYD has yet to confirm a range, it said the bus will travel more than 0.9 miles per kWh, suggesting a usable range of more than 400 miles. But as with its other electric buses, the BD11 will use a modular battery system so operators can alter it to fit the use profile of the vehicle. Most London buses travel between 100 and 200 miles a day.

BYD touts the proven safety and durability credentials of its trademark Blade battery technology (as also deployed in its electric cars) as a key factor in the BD11's appeal, suggesting it can remain in operation for between 12 and 20 years.

The fact that the company produces its batteries entirely in-house means that refurbishing the driveline of the BD11 will be much cheaper and more viable than if it had used a pack from a third-party supplier.

The battery is a structural component of BYD's new e-Platform 3.0 commercial vehicle platform, which has positive implications for ride comfort and rigidity, BYD said.

Other highlights of the platform include in-wheel motors – which maximise cabin space and help to facilitate an 8.0-metre turning radius – and standard-fit active suspension.

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Charging is possible at up to 500kW via a pantograph (overhead) connection, but conventional ports are fitted for conventional rapid charging in depots and at public stations - with the possibility to connect more than one charger at a time to boost speed.

BYD remains tight-lipped on precise commercial objectives and volume projections, given the sensitivities around public transport tendering processes, but BYD UK's commercial vehicle managing director Frank Thorpe said he "hopes" it can replace Wrightbus's New Routemaster as the default London bus.

That 13-year old hybrid double-decker – commonly known as the Boris Bus, in reference to Boris Johnson, who backed the project while serving as mayor of London – ended production in 2017 and is due to be phased out over the coming years in line with the city's goal to have an all-electric bus fleet by 2030.

"We genuinely believe it's a game-changing product in terms of its efficiency, safety and commercial appeal. We believe it's going to be significant," said Thorpe.

He stopped short of giving any sales predictions but said: "We've had a fantastic reaction from operators and stakeholders – the Department for Transport, Transport for London – and we're now going to prove what we say.

"That's the key: we can say all sorts, but we've got to prove that is the best bus for the UK public, taxpayers and stakeholders."

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The BD11 will arrive as a double-decker in the third quarter of 2024. A single-decker will follow a few months later and then a 'provincial' double-decker with a lower roof will land towards the end of 2025.

The BD11 has been revealed just as the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has predicted the "UK's bus market could be the first vehicle sector to decarbonise".

The SMMT said more than 40% of the UK's single- and double-deckers are now zero-emission and "buses are leading Britain's race to transport decarbonisation as Europe's biggest market for the very greenest road passenger vehicles".

However, it noted, more than half of all electric buses are being delivered to London, despite the fact that the capital accounts for less than a sixth of the UK's bus market.

It said: "The benefits, from improved local air quality and reduced noise pollution to a more enjoyable passenger experience, are unevenly distributed."

The SMMT has called for greater support for fleets of all sizes to go electric – a challenge it said is made particularly difficult by the tight operating margins in this sector and the fact that passenger numbers fell sharply when the Covid pandemic hit in 2020.

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Electric buses are also considerably more expensive to buy than their combustion-powered alternatives, the SMMT noted.

It hasn't yet been confirmed how much the BD11 will cost operators, but recent reports suggest London's Go-Ahead transport group is set to award BYD a contract to build more than 100 buses at around £400,000 each - which is said to be around £100,000 cheaper than UK competitors' buses.

BYD has already supplied buses to Go-Ahead, working in partnership with British manufacturer Alexander Dennis, but now operates independently and will ship the buses in from China.

However, Thorpe told Autocar that around 34% of the components used in the BD11 are sourced from the EU.

Felix Page

Felix Page
Title: News and features editor

Felix is Autocar's news editor, responsible for leading the brand's agenda-shaping coverage across all facets of the global automotive industry - both in print and online.

He has interviewed the most powerful and widely respected people in motoring, covered the reveals and launches of today's most important cars, and broken some of the biggest automotive stories of the last few years. 

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artill 22 May 2024

Did i miss it? Surely the article must say what a typical diesel bus costs. I am assuming a lot less than £400,000. Will the fares be going up to cover the cost? And a 12 year life. Thats not great is it. 

Anyway, i doubt it will be long before one is on the front pages with flames shooting out from underneath it. 

streaky 22 May 2024
It doesn't necessarily follow that the manufacturer of the battery is obviously going to be the cheapest to refurbish it. Autocar has already featured small efficient firms that can repair EV batteries without replacing the whole thing at rip-off prices as car dealers are currently doing and BYD might be tempted to do once they've got TfL by the short and curlies.
Also, I never know how much to believe on social media, but there has been a lot about BYD battery fires and videos of battery buses going up in flames. An elderly lady in London read of one such incident a couple of days ago and asked me how she could avoid using a battery bus. I told her: if you can't hear an engine, walk away!
Peter Cavellini 21 May 2024

We, yes we are responsible , we became an import economy,successive Governments closed down under performing brands because of us , there seems to be a new car from China every week,and that's is only one area of economy, yes, we need to fix it, it's not the Tories fault, it's whoever is in power who inherits the mess from the previous encumbant,it must be like trying to Knit Fog!. A fact is that just about any country who fought against Great Britain and the allies just now have had better economic success, now, how's that happened?