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Alcoa develops new all-aluminum space frame and design for BYD electric bus; 40% weight reduction, 10% range extension

Alcoa has developed a new all-aluminum space frame and bus design for BYD that has reduced the weight of the new BYD Electric Bus body by 40%—or nearly one ton—versus steel options. The first two new BYD Electric Bus prototypes were launched this week in Changsha City, Hunan Province, China.

New BYD Electric Bus. Click to enlarge.

In addition to reducing the weight of the bus body, Alcoa solutions—including Alcoa forged wheels and Huck Spin fasteners—reduced the overall bus weight by 1.2 tons in total. The combined weight savings are expected to help improve the overall range of the electric bus by at least 10%. The new bus has a range of approximately 300 kilometers (186 miles) on a full charge.

BYD plans to produce thousands of the electric buses for the China and Southeast Asia markets and will also export the buses globally. Alcoa will be the exclusive supplier of the new bus design as well as sheet product from its Bohai rolling mill in Qinhuangdao, Hebei. Alcoa will also be the exclusive supplier of forged aluminum wheels and fasteners to the project. Additional terms were not disclosed.

In January 2011, BYD launched testing of a fleet of all-electric 12-meter buses in Shenzhen and Changsha. (Earlier post.)

The new bus design builds on Alcoa’ capabilities in safe transportation design, including automotive and ground transportation space frame technologies for brands such as Ferrari and Audi, among others.



This is a very good example of what can be done to further improve the efficiency and range of ALL electrified vehicles. At 300 Km between charges, that would be more than enough for most city and school buses. Doubling batteries capacity (with higher energy density units or more batteries) could make these e-buses ideal for inter-city uses.

The future looks very bright for e-buses.


I'm not sure what's better: a bus that can go 300 km on a charge, or a bus that only goes 30 km but has a system to recharge from overhead busbars at any convenient spot. Being able to build ten times the buses for the same quantity of batteries would be a big plus.


Light weight improves mileage and performance.

It is about time an auto or bus maker discovered this.

Not until 1913, did NSU produce the "8/24" car with a body entirely made of aluminium.

As recently as 1923, Audi made a six-cylinder all-alloy engine and a streamlined aluminum car body for its Type K model.

In 1994, Audi introduced its A8 with an all-aluminium body.

Aluminum has a density one-third that of steel. However, the torsion and stiffness requirements means parts must be thicker and aluminum is about five times more expensive than steel per pound.

We need cheaper batteries AND cheaper aluminum.

HarveyD would be relatively easy to install less batteries and add a wireless heavy duty charger on buses with shorter routes. Plug-in modular batteries would be ideal?

TT:....with many more very large aluminum plants being built in many places, the market will soon be flooded with over production and price will come down. Current and future composites is another solution to reduce weight.

Hope to see under one tonne BEVs on highways before the end of the current decade.


What could possibly indicate that "the market will soon be flooded with over production" ?

Aluminum is energy intensive and, contrary to some posts, we are NOW in energy crisis times.


We've got an oil crisis. Electrical power is quite reasonable so long as oil isn't required to make it, and Iceland may be able to turn its huge hydropower resource into a world-leadership position in aluminum smelting.

It would be very amusing if Iceland's freighters shipping bauxite in and product out were powered by aluminum-air batteries.


Electrical power is not low cost and coal provides over 40% of it in the US; natural gas over 20%.

Renewable is increasing past 10% and will predominate before pigs fly, but it might be close.


Electricity is very cheap. An EV at 300 Wh/mi at the wall and $0.15/kWh has a per-mile energy cost of just 4.5 cents. An EV charging on off-peak power at 5 cents/kWh can chop those figures by 2/3. Even a Prius achieving 50 MPG costs 7 cents/mile on $3.50/gallon gas; a 30 MPG vehicle costs almost 12 cents/mile.

It doesn't matter if half of US electricity comes from coal today. That can be changed; the fuel requirements of a new ICEV cannot.

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