On Aug 16, 2015 Kullu district administration imposed a ban on plying of diesel and petrol-driven vehicles in Rohtang Pass in compliance with the orders of National green Tribunal (NGT). A notification to this effect was issued immediately by Kullu Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kanwar. It cited the May 5 orders of NGT banning all vehicles except those run by CNG/electric to the 3,978-metre Rohtang Pass.
This sudden decision of the Himachal Pradesh government has sent shock waves among the people engaged in tourism industry and other stakeholders especially the manufacturers as well. Reason being there isn’t a commercially produced electric bus in India and what ever we have seen are in concepts only.
Subsequently in Jan 2016, Central Govt. has agreed to fund 75% on the total expenditure in purchasing of electric buses. State Govt. proposed for 25 nos of initial electric midi buses and subsequently 50 will be added . Subsequent to that now in 2016, a tender is floated for 25 nos of 8m midi buses.
Inline with the tender transport corporation has requested to run the buses in Rohtang – Manali stretch for about 10 days to qualify as a bidder. This is a very tough and challenging road and it was right that the corporation has insited this as elctric buses as such is new and running them in odorous terrains in Rohtang pass is simply unimaginable.
BYD K7- The Surprise
When it comes to electric buses, BYD is always at fore front. BYD have already conducted trials with its K9 city bus in Bengaluru couple years back.
Though BYD didn’t have a RHD version of its 8m midi bus K7, somehow it took approval for running trials. This is very strange, as we don’t have regulations currently to import and run a left hand drive vehicle in India. Import is limited to showcasing and display. When there is no regulations, it means the bus cant be homologated by ARAI and officially they cant be registered in India. Its also potentially unsafe to drive a left hand drive vehicle in a place where all other vehicles are right hand drive. Its more dangerous in roads like Manali to Rohtang. But BYD and the State Govt. has surprised everybody by indicting a bus for trials, surpassing the safety and regulatory laws.
Powering K7 is a twin pack of 90kW Iron Phosphate batteries. Body is all aluminium monocoque with a floor height of 380mm. BYD also uses proprietory hub motors to power the wheels. We don’t have any news about the availability of RHD versions of K7, else where. BYD should have promised to develop right hand model specific to India when tender is approved. Its to be noted that K9 city bus, which underwent trials in BMTC has both LHD and RHD versions and is globally sold in both left hand markets like Europe, North America, and right hand markets like Singapore and Australia.
More on BYD and its eBus technology