Las Cruces approves $ 4.1 million contract for battery-powered electric buses

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Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to state that BYD North America does not receive state subsidies from China. A previous version also included its parent company.

LAS CRUCES – The city has approved the purchase of its first batch of battery-powered electric buses.

Las Cruces city councilors voted 6-0 on Monday to approve a contract with BYD Coach & Bus, a unit of Chinese parent company BYD Co. Ltd., to purchase five electric buses to add to the city’s RoadRUNNER Transit fleet , with the option to purchase up to seven more at a later date during the five-year contract term, which ends on December 30, 2026.

District 5 Councilor Gill Sorg was absent.

The total contract amount is $ 4.1 million, covering the first five buses and depot chargers. The amount will be funded by grants from the Federal Transit Administration, local twinning and other local funding, said transit administrator Mike Bartholomew.

The city will purchase the BYD K8M model.

“The innovative K8M, a state-of-the-art mass transit bus, is 35 feet long and can accommodate up to 33 passengers,” BYD said in a press release. “The highly reliable and safe K8M electric bus is equipped with an LFP battery up to 435 kWh and can be fully charged in 3 hours.”

The contract also specifies that BYD will provide 40 hours of training for city bus drivers, mechanics and first responders. BYD will design and produce buses to city standards and install depot charging equipment, said Jose Cardona, working with the city’s financial services department.

BYD, which stands for Build Your Dreams, promotes itself as “the world’s leading manufacturer of battery-powered electric buses with more than 50,000 vehicles in circulation worldwide and over 1,000 vehicles in circulation or in production in the United States.” Its customers include transit services and entities in Los Angeles, Denver, Anaheim, and Kansas City.

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The buses are expected to enter service next November, when Bartholomew told the council they would replace five old diesel buses in the city’s fixed-route fleet, which consists of 20 buses. If more electric buses are purchased, they will continue to replace existing and older diesel buses, he said.

Bartholomew also said BYD’s contract with the city would not be affected by an amendment to the National Defense Permission Act, which will prohibit transit agencies from spending federal dollars to buy electric buses at Chinese or Chinese-controlled companies.

Frank Girardot, senior director of communications at BYD North America, said BYD falls under this, although he said the company is challenging the principle of the NDAA Amendment because the company is a private company. Girardot said BYD North America does not receive state subsidies from China.

Bartholomew said that since the contract goes into effect before 2022, the purchase of all five buses and the potential purchase of seven more later, as well as all other provisions of the contract, will not be affected by the NDAA.

Michael McDevitt is a city and county government reporter for the Sun-News. He can be reached at 575-202-3205, mmcdevitt@lcsun-news.com or @MikeMcDTweets on Twitter.



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