When Washington resident Kevin Ponder spotted this charging situation going down at a Walmart Supercenter parking lot in Woodland, a 100% electric articulated BYD bus getting charged by a diesel generator, he knew he had to stop and snap some photos.
Ponder shared his gallery of photos on Facebook and with a witty caption, naturally, the post’s taken on a whole life of its own.
Here’s Ponder’s post below.
Here’s where on Google Maps the bus was spotted (location linked here.)
“Had to stop and take pics of the “100% battery electric” bus being charged by a huge diesel powered generator behind a diesel powered pickup,” Ponder’s caption reads.
Ponder’s caption is meant to point out the irony of charging a bus off of non-renewable energy.
The diesel charger is a CAT XQ230, a mobile diesel generator capable of delivering up to 600 volts of electricity.
In this case, that much juice isn’t necessary as the bus in question is an electric BYD K11M 60-foot articulated bus charging off of what looks like a pair of J1772 connectors, charging ends you’ll find on most electric cars today.
This particular BYD electric bus has a 578 kWh battery. To put that in perspective, that’s 7x larger than the largest Tesla Model 3 battery pack.
At 26 tons without passengers, it needs that larger of a battery pack.
The Super Duty truck, while available with a gas engine, is probably, as Ponder captions, a diesel.
So, what’s a BYD electric bus doing stranded at a Walmart?
While I’ve reached out to BYD for an official comment, here’s what I think is going on.
BYD electric busses are no stranger to Washington State.
Earlier last year BYD won the rights to supply the State of Washington with American-made BYD coaches and buses.
Prior to that, the city of Wenactchee’s Link Transit system already operates 23 fully-electric BYD buses with, as of May 2022, eight more on the way.
My guess is this articulated bus is being delivered to some city in Washington and, to make it from their bus factory in Lancaster, California (Yes, these BYD busses are made in America) they’ve got a mobile diesel generator following it.
It’s a one-time charging situation that, when these busses are actually in use, probably won’t happen again.
The optics of this aren’t the best so you can imagine what where the most popular comments under Ponder’s photo gallery.
Here’s a sample of the most popular.
Thankfully, there were, as this blog post is trying to do, some commenters attempting to shed some light on what likely happened.
Once in use won’t this bus be charged off dirty, natural gas or coal fired plants?
On a basic level, electric vehicles are generally only as clean as the grid it’s charging off of.
It’s arguably not very green if these buses are charging off a power grid supplied by natural gas and (clean) coal-fired power plants.
That being said, Washington is, according to Consumer Affairs, literally one of the Greenest States in the United States with, “significantly higher conventional hydroelectric power generation and overall renewable energy production,” compared to the rest of the 49 other states.
The dozens of Hydroelectric power plants peppered besides Washington’s many major rivers should make that quite clear.
But yes, if you want to laugh at the absurdity of this one, particular charging situation, no one’s stopping you.
During some situations, like making that once-in-a-lifetime trip up from BYD’s California-based bus factory, these electric busses need help from a pollution-emitting diesel generator towed by a diesel truck to make the trip.