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Los Angeles' order of 130 electric buses is the largest in US history

The move toward EVs in its bus fleet is part of a plan to make the whole fleet electric by 2030.

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Pretty soon the familiar orange and silver of LA Metro buses will no longer be accompanied by the clatter and roar of a diesel engine.

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People don't necessarily think of robust public transit when they think of Los Angeles, and while things may have been pretty lackluster a couple of decades ago, that has mostly changed.

Part of that change has come from LA's commitment to its ever-expanding light rail system, which, while effective, is very expensive and time-consuming to build. In the meantime, people are still using buses, and many of those buses are still powered by diesel fuel or compressed natural gas (CNG).

Enter BYD -- aka Build Your Dreams -- a Chinese firm that's already got a bit of a North American foothold thanks to its sales of electric garbage trucks and other medium-duty commercial vehicles.

BYD and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) announced on Wednesday that the city would be placing what it believes to be the largest order for electric buses in North American history -- 130 Model K7M buses, to be exact. The K7M is 30 feet long and features 22 seats, a range of up to 150 miles and can be charged in around three hours.

"We applauded LADOT for its bold leadership, ambition, and desire to improve the air quality for the City of Los Angeles," said BYD North America President Stella Li in a statement. "BYD buses will be an important component of the city's efforts to meet its sustainability goals. We are proud to partner with an agency that shares our green dream."

But wait a minute, buying electric buses from China seems kind of counterproductive if you have to ship them here, right? Totally, and that's why the BYD buses will be built in the company's Lancaster, California factory, less than 80 miles from LA's city hall, of at least 70% American components, according to the company.

This move to switch a considerable portion of its bus fleet to electric power is part of LA's broader goal to make its entire fleet zero-emission by 2030. Beyond that, LA plans to make every city-owned vehicle zero-emission by 2050 as part of its own Green New Deal.

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Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).

Updated Nov. 13, 2019 5:08 p.m. PT

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Written by  Kyle Hyatt
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c3b3-c-c-400x400
Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
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