Japanese city latest to buy BYD's electric buses that power 200 cities globally
In November, China's electric vehicle maker BYD, which stands for "Build Your Dream", delivered 10 K9 buses to Naha city in Okinawa, Japan's southernmost prefecture.
The contract marked a new milestone in BYD's overseas growth, and confirmed it is the first Chinese vehicle maker to taste success in Japan, a market that has spawned global auto brands.
Back in 2015, BYD sold five K9 electric buses or e-buses to Kyoto. That was a breakthrough because Japan is known for its manufacturing excellence and stringent requirements for technology and quality.
The Naha bus order came on the back of a boom in local tourism. In recent years, cruise ships have brought an increasingly large number of foreign tourists. Now, for the first time, BYD's e-buses will ferry tourists around in Okinawa.
BYD will likely be asked to supply more such buses in future. The company first appeared on Naha's radar when Yoshitaka Matsuda, president of the local Ships Agency, an agent for foreign cruise companies, was looking for shuttle buses.
Japan's Mizuho Bank introduced Matsuda to the K9, an electric bus powered by BYD's self-developed iron-phosphate battery. In its class, the e-bus features the longest drive range of 250 km on one single charge under urban road conditions.
Matsuda visited the Shenzhen-based BYD to see if the K9 fits in with his larger goal of emission-free road transport for tourists in Okinawa. BYD's electric taxis in Shenzhen impressed him. He was immediately overwhelmed by Shenzhen's fresh air and strategy for environmentally friendly development.
Matsuda looked no further than the K9. In his words, the bus can help Okinawa to preserve or even improve its environment.
Ships Agency plans to buy 80 more K9s in 2018－40 for Naha and the other 40 for Okinawa's second-largest island, Miyakojima, where a port is to be built.