CHENNAI, India, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- In August 2013 when a K9 electric bus by Chinese automaker BYD first arrived here, local customs registered it as a test vehicle due to little knowledge about how much tax should be levied.
Roughly six years later, however, batches of electric buses newly rolling off the line at BYD's Chennai factory hit the roads across India, representing win-win outcomes of bilateral cooperation.
CHARGING UP HEARTLAND
In 2007, BYD started business in the southern Indian city of Chennai, the heartland of India's auto industry.
Six months after the BYD K9 electric bus first arrived at the Chennai Port, the Indian government issued its first-ever electric bus operation license. Seizing the chance, BYD kickstarted K9 bus trials in the southern Indian city of Bangalore.
Under the spotlight there was no glitch for three months, which lays a solid foundation for BYD's localization and cooperation.
Up to now, Olectra-BYD, a joint venture between BYD and India's Olectra Greentech, has accounted for 57.5 percent of the Indian market in fully-operational electric bus. More than 200 BYD electric buses run in major cities like Mumbai, Pune and Bangalore.
The company's buses deliver a comfortable travel experience. In 2016, a BYD bus hit the road in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of nearly 4,000 meters, the highest of such operating in India.
In September, five K7 electric buses were delivered in Nagpur in central India as one of the first women-only units, according to BYD.
"Based on the operating records, these electric buses are really great," Sheikh Bar, depot manager of Telangana State Road Transportation Cooperation, told Xinhua, noting that BYD buses are better as they run with zero noise and zero emission, compared to some 4,000 buses in Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, mostly powered by the liquefied natural gas and diesel.
With a range of 300 km per charge, the average operating cost of a BYD electric bus is around 5 rupees (0.07 U.S. dollar) per km, less than one-third of a fuel bus.
"They look fantastic and modern plus eco-friendly too!" said a message on Indian social media on reports of testing operations. "Thank you very much for the partnership between the Chinese company and Indian company who built this bus for us," said another.
The success of the joint ventures between BYD and Olectra Greentech, a diversified Indian company public-listed in Mumbai, could be attributed to catering to the need of the public and the Indian government's envision of future public transportation, said Executive Director of BYD India Private Limited Zhang Jie.
In 2015, BYD and Olectra Greentech set up a bus design and assembly facility in Hyderabad in support of the Indian government's strategic planning for "Made in India." It now has an annual capacity of building 1,000 electric buses.
In December 2018, the company's Chennai factory started producing the chassis and batteries of BYD's K7 and K9 buses. It is expected to create some 200 jobs with the production in full swing.
For the Indian government, the company's environmentally friendly and energy-efficient vehicles could help it achieve its goal of electric mobility. The government planned to have 30 percent of newly-registered private vehicles and 60 percent of those in public transportation going electric by 2030, which could cut 846 million tons of carbon dioxide by then.
"We are glad to see the launch of a new phase of electric vehicles schemes by the Indian government, which is in line with the effort by BYD to push for electrification of public transport globally," said Liu Xueliang, managing director of BYD Asia Pacific.
"BYD will continue to work with our local partners and customers for the electrification of transport in India," Liu added.