Electric-powered buses will soon be plying the streets of Tel Aviv.

The Dan Bus Company, which serves Tel Aviv and its suburbs, has signed a deal with Chinese company BYD to purchase up to 700 full-size electric buses. The first buses will be deployed in the coming months, with more buses gradually joining Dan’s fleet over the next several years. Eventually, Dan hope to replace about half of its current fleet of about 1,300 buses with the new electric models.

The BYD buses are pure electric — without a standard internal combustion engine for backup, as in hybrids – and some of the models also sport a photovoltaic system on the roof to generate electricity, which is fed into the battery. The battery itself was developed by BYD, and the company claims that it is good for 6,000 recharges.

Recharging is done by simply plugging the battery into a special charger supplied by BYD, and 100 kilowatts of power is enough to supply the bus with enough power to run for 100 kilometers. The full recharging cycle is completed in 3-6 hours. Recharging will be done at Dan garages, not at Better Place recharging stations, which are being deployed around Israel for use by passenger vehicles.

Each bus is 12 meters long, and can run up to about 250 kilometers (155 miles) on a single charge, more than enough for a daily run on most routes. That assumes normal road conditions — hardly the case in traffic-choked Tel Aviv, where the distance per charge is likely to be somewhat smaller, Dan officials said.

BYD (an acronym for “Build Your Dreams”) is a major player in the electric bus market. Its buses are deployed in a number of cities in China, Europe, and North and South America, and US investor Warren Buffet owns 10 percent of the company. According to the BYD, the accumulated mileage achieved for its electric buses by the end of July 2012 reached over 8.23 million kilometers (5.1 million miles).

The buses are being brought to Israel by BYD’s importer, Clal Motors. In a statement, Doron Vadai, the CEO of Clal Motors, said, “BYD’s electric bus is the perfect solution for the city of Tel Aviv, reducing both emissions and noise for the benefit of the citizens of Tel Aviv. This pilot will make Dan one of the pioneers in the zero emission public transportation era in the world.”