So why has the Chinese company that is building buses for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project been so late in delivering the 60-foot-long, articulated electric buses to the city?
According to Macy Neshati, Senior Vice President with BYD America, the company got too big too fast. The company, which has its North American plant in the Los Angeles area, said it went in 18 months from building 20 buses a year to having to make 700 of them a year, Neshati said.
And in that time, the firm had to expand its factory and hire more people to ramp up to the 700 buses-a-year rate, Neshati said through a local public relations firm, Agenda.
The company has the orders and the capacity to produce 700 electric buses in 2018, Neshati said through the local PR firm.
And although the firm has delivered only nine or 10 of the 20 buses it intends to deliver to Albuquerque, BYD said all 20 of the buses will be built by the end of January and delivered to the city by early February.
And, Neshati said that the city of Long Beach, Calif., has rebid its electric bus contract and again selected BYD to build its 10 buses. The firm said that a HuffPost story that said the Federal Transit Administration had ordered Long Beach this past December to cancel its contract with BYD was incorrect.
The FTA ordered Long Beach to cancel its contract with BYD in 2014, and in April 2015, the city rebid the contract and again selected BYD to build its buses, according to a newspaper story from the Press-Telegram newspaper.
Speaking through the local PR firm, Neshati addressed another issue about BYD's buses that the city has concerns about: the fact that they were supposed to get 275 miles per charge but are only getting 200 miles.
Apparently, city workers were testing the buses at much higher speeds than they will actually be traveling on the ART route, Neshati said through the local PR firm. That meant that the batteries ran down faster than they would under normal ART operating conditions.
The actual difference in range for what the city wants and the buses actually get is only five miles a charge, Neshati said through the local PR firm.
Here's a press release that BYD issued late Wednesday about its problems in Albuquerque:
BYD America, the City of Albuquerque’s partner on the “Gold Standard”-awarded Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project, is working overtime to resolve issues identified by newly elected Mayor Tim Keller.
“BYD is committed to manufacturing and delivering world-class electric vehicles with cutting-edge battery technologies. And where we’ve fallen short with ART, we will put the resources in place to make it right. Our commitment is simple: any concerns that the city has will be fixed and we won’t rest until we’ve exceeded the city’s expectations” said Macy Neshati, Senior Vice President with BYD America.
One issue that Mayor Keller highlighted during a Tuesday press conference relates to deliveries: specifically, that BYD is behind schedule on delivery of the 20 buses it has committed to. While BYD has delivered nine buses to date, according to Neshati, BYD is working closely with a City of Albuquerque inspector – who has been working at BYD’s California factory for the duration of the production – to review each bus before it is delivered. “We know there are issues with the schedule and with items identified by local transit staff which we are working to address.”
And while BYD doesn’t challenge the need to close the delivery gap, BYD continues to stand proudly behind its commitments to the City of Albuquerque.
“Our buses will be approved by the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA) when Altoona testing recommences, and our charging infrastructure will comply with the City’s requirements. These units are currently functioning in Albuquerque as they are in states such as California, Washington, Oregon and others,” said Neshati.
Because all BYD buses require the use of generator power for transit from the factory to communities where they are put into service, no warranty will be compromised should the City of Albuquerque choose to continue charging with on-site generators.
Neshati added, “Our team in California and the team we have on the ground in Albuquerque will address every identified issue and deliver the world class buses we are known for. Taxpayers will not pay a dime until we do.”