The electric bus

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Q & A

Isbrand Ho, Managing Director, European Auto Sales Division, BYD Europe B.V.

Interview & photo: Ashish Bhatia

Q. What is BYD’s plan for India?

A. For BYD, India has been an encouraging market. It is a market that is fast evolving. The dynamics of the Indian market are no longer a drop off point for used buses. The resale value of used diesel buses dropping by 10 per cent over the last one year (FY2016-17) is a clear indication of the Indian market fast evolving.

Q. With the push for electric vehicles growing, do you see diesel engine ceasing to exist?

A. The EuroIV, EuroV, EuroVI engines mark an improvement over the previous engine generations. To me, the development looks like a ‘band-aid’ approach. There is little doubt that diesel vehicles are a baggage for an Original Equipment Manufacturer. They continue to emit. I remember that during a discussion at Paris, one of the diesel OEMs, opined that diesel is the right approach in comparison to electric propulsion technology. We, on the contrary, rooted for electromobility.

Q. Isn’t BYD one of the few OEMs which manufactures electric batteries?

A. A battery is like ‘Intel inside’ for an electric vehicle. The way computers cannot run with the Intel processor, an electric vehicle cannot run without a battery. There has been three to five per cent increase in energy density every year. This implies that even if the price of a battery remains the same, there is an indirect three to five per cent reduction in the overall cost of the battery. Given the rise in demand for batteries, we expect a decrease in price of up to five per cent. It is more than ever before. Looking ahead, we are certain of the advantage of economies of scale.

Q. What is BYD’s presence in Europe like?

A. You would have noticed that we showcased the 8.7 m electric mini-bus at Busworld Europe (Kortrijk) with a travel range of 200 km on a single charge. It is in-line with the needs of our customer base today. Our customers are looking for shorter buses. Based on their feedback, we have come to understand that a 12 metre buses may not be feasible anymore. Earlier the operators used to convert a Sprinter to suit their needs. Now, they are coming to find the mini-bus ideal for operating in cities, and over narrow roads. Unlike the mini-bus, the Sprinter failed to serve the purpose of many operators. With 13-inch dia. wheels, it rode like a truck. Not only is the BYD’s new mini-bus a bus in the true sense, it also rides like one, and is comfortable. Our European buses are engineered to be flexible.