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CALL 6: IndyGo Red Line electric bus testing results may have been flawed

Posted at 8:34 AM, Mar 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-13 08:34:07-04

INDIANAPOLIS — More electric buses for IndyGo's Red Line are rolling into Indianapolis as the city gets closer to opening the bus rapid transit system later this year, but testing of those new buses has been flawed, according to new information obtained by Call 6 Investigates.

At a price tag of nearly $1.3 million each, the K11 60-foot electric buses manufactured by China-based BYD, which stands for "Build Your Dreams," are supposed to be able to travel 275-miles on a single charge.

Last week, Call 6 Investigates uncovered internal documents that the buses weren't meeting that range and only averaging 205 miles during testing by IndyGo.

PREVIOUS | CALL 6: Internal documents reveal issues with IndyGo Red Line buses

But now sources within IndyGo tell Call 6 Investigates' Paris Lewbel the testing process for the buses was flawed and the actual range of the buses is much lower. According to documents provided under a condition of anonymity, the buses were not tested with any simulation of weight from passengers.

Only the bus driver and a few IndyGo employees were on-board the bus during testing. IndyGo didn't factor in the thousands and thousands of extra pounds added to the bus when passengers get on board.

Bus experts familiar with IndyGo and BYD's electric buses tell us the range will drop dramatically when weight is added, because the motors have to work harder and that requires more battery power.

Those experts say they would expect the range to drop dramatically, depending on the weather and other conditions.

BYD's K11 electric bus has been plagued with range issues in other places around the country, like in Albuquerque, N.M.

"Frankly, dealing with that company and those buses have been a challenge, a huge challenge," Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said.

In November 2018, our ABC News sister station KOAT in Albuquerque was flying above the buses as the city returned them to BYD because of range issues and safety concerns. The city of Albuquerque said the buses weren't getting 275-miles range on a single charge, as promised by BYD.

The fleet didn't it make it far, KOAT reported. One bus only made it 100 miles before it had to pull over and be recharged.

Back in Indianapolis, IndyGo tells us they are now testing the buses with hundreds of sandbags inside to simulate passenger weight. The first test was on Monday.

In a statement, IndyGo said, "At this time, we are still working with BYD on the remedy for range issues."

Call 6 has requested a copy of the test results, but IndyGo has not released them yet.