First Electric Bus Hits Israel’s “First Hebrew City”

electric bus
Dan’s electric bus is displayed in Tel Aviv, Monday (Photo: Screen Shot)

When God placed the first man in the Garden of Eden, He commanded him to care for the land (Genesis 2:15). One Israeli bus company is starting to live up to its responsibility.

The Dan bus company, which services the metropolitan Tel Aviv area, unveiled its first electric bus this week.  The 12-meter long, low-floor bus is bright orange in color, and will begin servicing the number 5 bus line in downtown Tel Aviv.

The bus is part of the Israel’s commitment to reduce its carbon footprint.  This is the first electric bus in Israel, in the first Hebrew city [in the modern era],” said Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz. “It is much quieter, much cleaner and much more economical. … The electric bus meets our target of a 60-percent reduction in the use of fuel in public transportation. We are now studying the use of natural gas in buses, while, for our trains, we want to promote electrically powered trains. This is part of our vision of progress and the attainment of important goals.”

The electric bus is outfitted with batteries on the roof, under the seats and under the front wheels.  It takes about 4-5 hours to charge at a Gnrgy charging station set up in the Dan parking lots at either end of the route.  The bus can run up to 250 km (about 155 miles) on a single charge, more than enough for its daily urban needs.

The electric bus is manufactured by Chinese battery company BYD.  An acronym for Building Your Dream, BYD is the world’s largest battery manufacturer and has become a leader in the electric bus and car markets, too.  Some bus models developed by the company include solar charging panels on the roof.

As transportation minister, Katz has guided his ministry to remove some of the legal obstacles in place, thereby enabling Dan to purchase the Chinese buses.  Dan’s commitment, to the tune of NIS 400 million (about $111 million US), includes the purchase of about 200 buses.  The company plans to eventually replace up to one quarter of its fleet.  Although the buses are more expensive to buy, and can accommodate 4 fewer passengers, since they are cheaper to maintain and operate, they will ultimately save the company money.

Clal Motors, a vehicle importer, facilitated the purchase.  CEO Doron Vadai said, “It is much easier to convert a bus [than a car] to electric power. The range of a bus is limited and known; buses can ‘rest in the parking lot’ between rush hours. Plus, cheap electric power means that a lot of money can be saved.”