If when you think of electric vehicles you picture tiny lightweight cars designed to maximize their battery life, BYD Motors is about to blow your mind. At the recent 2014 American Public Transportation Association Expo in Houston, the company revealed a new articulated bus that it’s claiming is the world’s largest battery electric vehicle.

Dubbed as America’s first electric articulated bus, the Lancaster eBus is named after the California city where it was designed and built after over two years of development. From the outside, the 60-ft (18.2-m), articulated, battery-electric vehicle looks like any other bendy bus, but it hides some advanced electric drive technology. This includes in-wheel motors that can handle gradients of up to 21 percent and make it suitable for hilly urban areas, and give it a range of over 179 mi (288 km) with a load of 120 passengers.

Based in Pingshan, China, BYD specializes in batteries rather than buses, so the company’s philosophy has been to build the bus around the battery rather than select the battery for the bus. The Lancaster eBus uses BYD’s iron phosphate batteries also found in its cars and non-articulated buses. The company says these carry enough charge to complete a full day’s work without needing a top up, meaning the bus can be charged exclusively at night, when rates are lower.

Besides strategic charging, BYD says that the Lancaster’s battery can be recharged 10,000 times and still retain a 70 percent charge. This translates as a 25-year lifespan, which is greater than that of the buses that use it.

In addition, BYD claims that the Lancaster’s batteries can withstand fire, impact, punctures, and crushing to a very high degree, and that the Lancaster is a good bus to have around in a disaster. This is because one bus can recharge another, and the Lancaster can also feed power to the grid or a building in an emergency.

Source: Gizmodo