Further, for longer, for less?

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The BYD BD11’s looks are distinctive. BYD

Kevin Carr reports from the launch of the BYD BD11 double-deck electric bus at the London Bus Museum on 21 May

My latest mission for CBW took me to the London Bus Museum, set within the grounds of Brooklands near Weybridge in Surrey and a fantastic venue for all things transport. It offers a wide variety of exhibits from years gone by, but looking into the past was not the purpose of this visit. I was here to get a glimpse into the future.

The Museum provided a fantastic backdrop for BYD to launch its brand new all-electric double-decker, the BD11. The bus has been designed, developed, and manufactured entirely by BYD with no other third party involved. It débuts a new generation double-deck chassis which BYD says is lightweight and stable, for increased range and responsiveness, and also the ‘ground breaking’ Blade battery which is said to be the best in its class for safety whilst giving high levels of energy density and performance.

The event was hosted by London Bus Museum Chair of Trustees Leon Daniels.

Some stats

The BD11 is 10.9 metres long, 2.5 metres wide and 4.3 metres high with a wheelbase of 5.44 metres. The unladen weight is 19.5 tonnes and the bus can accommodate up to 90 passengers. The battery management system is integrated with HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air-Conditioning) with a BYD SIC 6-in-1 controller which BYD says yields an impressive 99.5% efficiency with a 15% weight reduction compared to traditional controllers.


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BYD is claiming some very impressive statistics as well. The battery has a 532kWh maximum capacity which can charge from zero to 100% in under two hours. If my mathematics are correct, then a two-hour charge could yield a range of over 375 to 400 miles. Impressive stuff. The maximum charging rate can be achieved through pantograph charging, in addition to which there are options for rapid charging through a ‘dual gun’ set-up using two plug-in chargers.

The bus boasts some notable safety features including its advanced emergency braking system (AEBS), blind spot monitoring (BSM), front collision warning (FCW), intelligent speed assistance (ISA) and an Alcolock. It also meets industry standards for cybersecurity and software updates ensuring optimum system security throughout its life cycle. An over-the-air (OTA) fleet link upgrade feature is being developed which will allow the vehicle to be updated remotely, eliminating the need for visits to service centres.

With the optional BYD active suspension control system BYD says the BD11 will set a new standard for ride quality. The electronically controlled CDC shock absorbers provide lower damping resulting in improved ride quality and are adjusted in real time based on the vehicle’s motion status, BYD tells us, allowing the driver to better control the vehicle while enhancing safety and passenger satisfaction.

The rear aspect is quite plain. BYD

Product evolution

BYD Product Director Peter Wu said that in the past 10 years BYD has evolved and innovated. “We have delivered over 31,000 electric buses worldwide from the first generation,” he said. “After many refinements BYD’s second generation of vehicles sees over 50,000 buses in service. Our customers are talking more and more about operational efficiency. With that in mind we have developed a third generation of bus that is more efficient. The third generation boasts enhanced safety and efficiency with longer range and longer life cycle.”

The Blade battery has been extensively tested for efficiency, safety, and robustness, BYD explained. It has passed nail penetration testing without emitting fire or smoke and strength has been optimised, and the battery pack is arranged so that each cell serves as a structural beam to help withstand forces. The volume utilisation of the Blade battery has been increased by over 50% compared to the traditional battery packs, says BYD, providing enhanced energy density and delivering a longer range. The Blade battery has a 10-year warranty as standard.

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director of BYD UK Commercial Vehicles, said: “Introducing our all-new fully electric BYD BD11 double-deck bus to the UK marks an important moment for BYD in the country and in the very important public transport arena. BYD is proud to contribute highly innovative, world-leading technology for safe and reliable electric mobility, providing operators with modern eco-friendly e-bus options that meet their specifications, thus providing more people with the choice to use clean, non-polluting bus services in the future. We look forward to the vehicle going into service in London, showcasing the deployment of our industry-leading technology in the mass transit sector.”

The first BD11 is to London specification with centre door and wheelchair access. Single- and double-deck buses in London and provincial specifications are planned. BYD


Reducing weight, reducing consumption and improving efficiency are all central to BYD’s mission plan. Speaking to Frank, he said the company was committed to ‘going further, for longer, for less.’ He added: “The UK bus industry needs a viable electric bus. We have been through the trials, been through the deployment. We’ve been through the low hanging fruit if you like, but now the industry really does need a viable electric bus for the next stage of deployment. It needs to be viable technically, it needs to be viable commercially and it needs to be viable operationally. We need the bus of the future, but we need it today because all of you know the UK bus industry faces some challenges. I believe that is what BYD is bringing to the market, what we are giving you today is a bus that will go further for longer for less.”

The first BD11 that has been launched is a bus that is designed specifically for London and is expected to hit the streets of the capital in the third quarter of this year. And we are told that we can expect a single-deck provincial bus to launch in the fourth quarter of this year. The first quarter of 2025 will see the launch of a TfL-specification single-deck bus, with a double-decker provincial vehicle hot on its heels by spring 2025, according to BYD, with the option of a low height configuration.

Asking Frank why he thinks bus operators should choose the BYD product he spoke first about batteries, saying that lightweight, long-life and safe batteries are critical to the future of electric bus operation. He went on to say: “the quality of the batteries and the integrated driveline were critically important, We design develop and manufacture so it means we are able to put the battery with the motor and the controller in optimum way, and people will see in the coming weeks and months the efficiencies that we have achieved.

“Our other key objective – and it is really important to us – is safety. We do what we call ‘design safe’ so our whole premise, our whole direction, is to ‘design safe’ the bus from the beginning. This is built around the Blade battery to begin with, and then includes the vehicle as a whole, and the way it operates. But it also includes passengers and other road users; our principal is safety on the bus and then safety around the bus.

“And the final bit – and this is a really important bit – is the TCO (the total cost of ownership). It needs to be viable and profitable for operators to run in their business, and we are competitive because we are a complete vehicle manufacturer. We are not ashamed of that. We are here to deliver value for UK bus operators and the British taxpayer, and we will never be ashamed of that. In addition to that we believe our warranties and guarantees are compelling.”

Four seats face each other at the rear of the lower deck. BYD

The price?

Whilst BYD did not comment on the total cost of purchasing the bus, the wider bus industry reports that the overall cost of the bus is around 25% less than its nearest competitor. The company also did not commit to telling me how many of its BD11s have been ordered but did say that it had received a significant order and we will be seeing plenty of examples on the streets of London very soon.

Dealing with just one manufacturer and essentially one warranty is a benefit that BYD seems keen to highlight. Keeping everything under one roof, some great efficiencies have been achieved, the company says. “Every kilowatt is valuable. It is not just a nice thing to have; every kilowatt of range in a bus it is absolutely critical, so every kilowatt counts and our position in technology, design and manufacture is really critical to optimising and getting the most out of that.

“The second important thing for me is that it makes us commercially competitive; our core technology does not rely on any third parties. We do the whole thing and that means we are not paying anyone else’s margins. We are not having to work with any other companies; our core technology is entirely in-house,” said Frank.


I took a very good look around the bus itself. I cannot say the design of the bus blew me away, but it did not upset me either. The bus oozes functionality. The driver accommodation appears to be comfortable with very simple and straight forward controls that are easy to use. The lower saloon feels spacious with sufficient leg room at every seat. The upper saloon is also sufficient in terms of space and layout with good visibility for passengers who like to admire the view.

When moving around, the bus was typically smooth and quiet – something of a benefit with electric buses and one which proves popular with passengers. And there are plenty bell pushes throughout the saloon – minimising the risk of coming out of your seat whilst stretching for the bell!

The BD11 is a further demonstration of the rapid progress that is being made in developing electric buses and making them a more commercially viable proposition for operators. The outstanding features of this bus may not come from its looks but from its statistics. If it can be achieved in everyday service, a range of up to 400 miles from a two-hour charge is nothing short of impressive. Perhaps this is the first electric double-decker to have a range to match the aspirations of many bus operators. And an overall cost of 25% less than its nearest competitor is another statistic to make you sit up and take note. It will be the stats that sell this bus.

We are sure to see many examples of the BD11 on the streets of London soon. We eagerly await the launch of the single-deck and provincial vehicles with great interest and look forward to seeing what more can BYD do to further develop the range and the life of its batteries. Can BYD make the break from being a chassis provider and bring its electric buses firmly into the mainstream? The key to this will be furthering the range and life of batteries and working to bring the cost down as we continue to watch the journey of electric buses from ‘niche to normal.’

BYD says that it centred its aims and aspirations around a bus going further for longer for less. If the stats are to be believed, and are proven in service, then it will be mission accomplished.

The driver’s cab area is simple and uncluttered. BYD