BYD has launched the ‘viable’ BD11 double decker in a move that will see the Chinese manufacturer launch a full-scale assault on the UK market

London is the first target market for the BYD BD11

BY Andrew Garnett

Every now and then, a new vehicle will be introduced to the industry that ostensibly is all very hush-hush but, in actual fact, has been an open secret for months. Rumours have swirled around for some time that Chinese manufacturer BYD – an acronym of Build Your Dreams – was poised to go it alone in the UK market. After all, many questioned how much longer its much-vaunted joint venture with British manufacturer Alexander Dennis (ADL) – which has now been in place for almost a decade – could last after ADL announced it would strike out on its own with a new range of electric buses engineered from the ground up (PT300).

And so it was at the London Bus Museum at Brooklands that BYD last week unveiled its all-new BD11 double decker – a 90-passenger 10.9 metre-long bus wholly designed and constructed in-house. It aims to offer operators exceptional range and performance as well as competitive pricing. Media reports ahead of the launch suggest the BD11 will be around 25% cheaper than its UK-manufactured equivalents – something that will undoubtedly concern – or even terrify – manufacturers’ boardrooms in Ballymena and Larbert.

BYD’s decision to launch the new BD11 double-decker at the London Bus Museum is clearly a statement of intent. As the manufacturer’s great and good took their turn on the podium to reveal the new product, they stood alongside one of the two prototype BYD K9E buses that entered service with Go-Ahead London in late 2013. That bus is now preserved in the museum as a critical milestone in the history of bus operation in the capital. It is clear that the London market remains crucial to BYD’s aspirations in the short term, but more on that later.

BYD is not a flash in the pan by any means – it is increasingly a global electric vehicle powerhouse. While some sections of the industry scoffed when BYD introduced those two K9Es into trial service in London in 2013 with their ‘shower cubicle’ battery compartments between the front wheel arches, they undoubtedly had an impact and hastened in the era of the mainstream zero-emission bus. By last summer, BYD’s JV with ADL had delivered 1,500 buses; today it is closer to 1,800.

That success is being replicated by BYD around the world. In 2023, the Chinese manufacturer sold over three million ‘new energy vehicles’, a category that includes battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. This marked a staggering year-on-year growth of almost 62%. While cars make up the bulk of BYD’s sales, a closer look at the statistics reveals a remarkable increase of 88.2% in the commercial vehicle segment, including electric buses and trucks, with 11,511 vehicles.

BYD is not a flash in the pan by any means – it is increasingly a global electric vehicle powerhouse

BYD’s strategic vision extends well beyond China. Since 2017, it has been operating a facility on the banks of the Danube in Komárom, Hungary, producing an increasing number of buses and trucks for continental European markets. The company’s commitment to Europe was further solidified with the announcement of a new car production facility in Szeged, located in the south of Hungary. In recent weeks BYD executives have said they aim to topple VW, Tesla and Stellantis to become the largest battery-electric vehicle seller in Europe by 2030.

BYD says the BD11 refines its ‘flying wing’ design language

Blade Battery technology

Back to the BD11. This is the third generation of BYD’s electric bus platform. The company manufactured over 30,000 units of the first-generation, e-Platform 1.0, bus, followed by more than 50,000 units based on the e-Platform 2.0. That includes those 1,800 buses in service in the UK as part of the JV with ADL. BYD aims to build on this success with the e-Platform 3.0 that underpins the BD11. The manufacturer believes the critical competitive advantage of the new bus lies in its innovative Blade Battery technology.

When the subject of electric vehicles comes up, the discourse inevitably moves on to the toxic materials in many battery chemistries. However, the Blade Battery uses what BYD claims is “revolutionary” lithium-ion phosphate chemistry that aims to offer not only improved energy efficiency but also without cobalt and some of the other toxic nasties like nickel and other metals found in other EV battery chemistries. Lithium-ion phosphate also promises greater safety than conventional lithium-ion batteries, and BYD stresses that the Blade Battery has been subjected to the Nail Penetration Test, which it passed without emitting fire or smoke.

To begin with BYD is offering two battery options – 457 or 532 kWh – with the usual caveat that this is the initial capacity and will decrease over time and use. Both options come with a 10-year, 80% state-of-health warranty as standard. On broader BD11 bus warranties, BYD remains tight-lipped for now.

The batteries in the BD11 are integrated into its chassis, making them part of the vehicle’s structure. BYD claims that this helps reduce overall weight, which enhances range and reduces energy consumption. Addressing potential concerns about ground clearance, Peter Wu, BYD’s product director, stated at the launch that the design has undergone over 1.5 million tests, examining how the chassis responds to obstacles and flexing.

Operators are offered flexibility in charging options, with a choice between conventional gun charging or roof-mounted pantographs, the latter providing a maximum charge of 500kW. Dual-gun charging allows for a full recharge in under two hours.

The vehicle features two 150kW hairpin motors in the rear axle, which improve efficiency with a flat wire and oil-free design. This results in a 15% weight reduction and what BYD claims is extremely low motor noise. An integrated thermal management system also helps save energy while the HVAC system is designed to meet the latest Transport for London regulations.

We are here to deliver value for UK bus operators and the taxpayer. We will never be ashamed of that

A viable electric bus?

BYD is being coy about initial BD11 orders, citing non-disclosure agreements with customers, but media reports ahead of the launch suggest Go-Ahead London has placed a significant order for the type. While London is BYD’s initial focus, it plans to introduce a single-decker bus for the provincial market by the fourth quarter of this year. A single-decker for London will follow in the first quarter of 2025 and a low-height provincial double decker will be launched by mid-2025. Going forward BYD also has ambitions to expand its line up into other bus segments. It’s clear that BYD is serious about the UK market and will have a very sharp pencil in future operator procurement competitions.

The all-new BYD BD11 uses BYD’s new Blade Battery Chassis

“We’ve been through the trials, and we’ve been through the deployment – we’ve been through the low-hanging fruit if you like – but now the industry needs a viable electric bus for the next stage of deployment,” said Frank Thorpe, managing director of BYD’s commercial vehicle business in the UK. “It needs to be viable technically, commercially and operationally. We need the bus of the future, but we need it today.”

He added that the UK industry was clearly facing challenges, but with the BD11, BYD was giving the UK market a bus “that will go further, for longer, for less.” Thorpe also highlighted BYD’s vertical integration – where it manufactures the battery, controller, and motor as well as the bus – as a key strength.

“We’re competitive as we’re a complete vehicle manufacturer. I am not going to be ashamed of being competitive. We are here to deliver value for UK bus operators and the taxpayer. We will never be ashamed of that.”


Vehicle length: 10,900mm
Vehicle width: 2,550mm
Vehicle height: 4,300mm
Wheelbase: 5,440mm
Max G.V.W: 19.5 t
Wheelbase: 5,440 mm
Front overhang: 2,830mm
Rear overhang: 2,630mm
Max. passenger capacity: 90
Safety certification: R155, R156, AEBS, ISA
Battery capacity: 457kWh/532 kWh
Battery technology: Blade Battery (LFP)
Charging system: Plug-in charging (CCS) or pantograph charging
Motor type: Hairpin wheel hub motor
Motor model: BYD motor, 150kWx2
Controller: BYD SIC (Silicon carbide) 6 in 1 controller
Battery management system: Integrated with HVAC
Front axle: ZF independent suspension
Drive axle: BYD

This article appears in the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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