ON DUTY — A 60-foot electric “articulated” bus made by BYD is in service with the Antelope Valley Transit Authority.

LANCASTER — BYD Coach and Bus will hire independent transportation experts to fully inspect the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, buses based on common industry standards after the city pulled out of its contract with the Chinese company this week citing safety concerns and structural issues.

Company officials also threatened to take all appropriate legal action to protect itself in light of city officials’ conduct.

According to a Nov. 13 release by the city numerous safety concerns were uncovered by mechanics after 15 BYD buses underwent a full inspection at Mayor Tim Keller’s direction to ensure the safety of the buses after several issues came up during driver training.

“After inspections over the past three weeks, we’ve uncovered so many safety and structural issues that we simply cannot put these buses on our streets,” Keller said in a statement.

According to the release, the city tried to work with BYD for more than a year to resolve major issues with bus performance and workmanship.

“Now we’re putting BYD on notice, demanding that they come pick up these buses and holding them responsible for damages to our taxpayers,” Keller said.

The problems cited in the release say the buses were not able to timely pass the Altoona testing as promised in the contract, and therefore the city cannot put the buses into service.

Altoona refers to the Larson Trans­­portation Institute’s Bus Re­­search and Testing Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania. The cen­ter tests buses for main­tain­ability, reliability, safety, per­formance, structural integrity and durability, fuel/energy economy, noise, and emissions.

City officials also claimed BYD has not provided certifications that are contractually and fed­er­ally required, such as the crash worthiness certifications. In addition, the city informed BYD that the bus batteries and chargers do not meet the spec­ifications as required under the contract.

“City officials have identified serious and non-repairable safe­ty issues with the buses that pro­hib­it the city from proceeding with any launch of the BYD buses with­in Albuquerque,” the release said.

BYD released its response Friday, saying the facts show that Keller and his team never intended to honor their contract.

“Keller has admitted that city transit officials have been working for many months with one of BYD’s competitors,” the company said. “As a result, the fleet of usable, zero-emission buses, built in Lancaster, California, by an all-union workforce, have sat idle for the past 90 days. BYD has not been paid for the buses built to Albuquerque’s specifications, and has not been allowed to inspect the buses during that time.”

Company officials are confident the bus inspections “will document and demonstrate that buses sent to the city of Albuquerque earlier this year are sound, fit for service and able to carry riders in a safe man­ner in accordance with all state and federal standards for pas­sen­ger buses,” the statement said.

In addition, BYD officials vehemently denied all allegations made by Keller regarding sup­posed defects with the company’s zero-emission buses.

“Keller’s media statements slan­der and maliciously harm the reputation and good name of BYD,” the statement said.

“These statements show that the city is not acting in good faith under the contract and further indicate a potential political agen­da to discredit and throttle a public works project that the mayor has long criticized as part of his campaign platform,” the state­ment said. “The mayor’s ac­tions have harmed the people of Al­bu­querque, BYD, and all 850 of our U.S. employees.”

Since BYD opened its Lancaster manufacturing plant in 2013, the plant has grown from 106,000 square feet and a workforce of a few dozen to a facility that now cov­ers more than a half million square feet. The firm is the only elec­tric vehicle manufacturer in the U.S. to have an all-union work­force, and a diverse team of employees.

BYD delivered a fleet of 60‐foot articulated buses to Albuquerque in February, as ordered, according to the company’s statement. The statement cited a report from Albuquerque’s inspector gen­er­al, issued in June, that said city Transit District inspectors spent months inserted into the manufacturing process at BYD’s Lan­caster plant. Those inspectors were in daily contact with their su­per­visors in Albuquerque who certified the buses for service on the Central Avenue corridor earlier this year.

“We fully expect that these in­de­pendent, unbiased in­spec­tions will conclusively dem­on­strate that our buses are built to the highest standards and capable of fulfilling the purpose that they were purchased for,”  BYD President Stella Li said in a statement.

According to the company’s statement BYD worked tirelessly and in good faith with city officials to ensure its products met their requirements.

“In our commitment to world-class customer service, BYD offered the city extended war­ran­ties, additional electric bat­tery charging equipment, and tech­nicians to ensure a smooth tran­sition toward emission-free public transportation,” the company said.

BYD is the largest electric ve­hicle manufacturer in the world, with thousands of customers and more than 36,000 buses deployed, and in service daily. Company of­fi­cials say its buses are reliable and safe, and are moving quickly to implement the separate in­spection.

“An independent investigation will prove to the world that we have been misrepresented,” Li said.

The company said Albu­quer­que’s actions have not only wrongfully damaged BYD’s rep­u­tation, but also have deprived the citizens of Albuquerque of the world’s safest and most advanced pollution- and cost-reducing zero‐emission transit bus.

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(2) comments


Man up BYD this is what happens during growing pains...don't get sneaky or you will "fail".

Chief Ski

This is strictly political. This transit project started under a Republican Mayor. Many problems were encountered due to unprofessionalism on both sides. Recently elected Democrat mayor turned it into a circus. Typical political strategy: attack the company to distract from mistakes made by city.

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