Globally, transport accounts for almost a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions, and road vehicles such as cars, trucks and buses account for nearly 75% of those emissions. The electrification of public transport offers a great opportunity for countries to reach their net zero goals and to build low-carbon cities.
Electric bus adoption in public transport urban fleets is increasing all over the world. While the interest began in China, now in the U.S, battery-electric buses are expected to remain the lowest-carbon option in every part of the country, and Europe is seeing an evergrowing increase in electric bus fleets.
In the first half of 2022, 1767 electric buses were registered in Europe which was nearly double what was registered the year before. The global electric bus market is expected to reach 670k units in 2027 according to a report made by MarketsandMarkets. Although the Asia Specific region has occupied 98% of the world’s deployed electric buses, North America is projected to be the fastest-growing market during the forecast period.
Here are some of the leading electric bus makers, racing to get a portion of the 1.2 million e-buses on the road globally by 2025.
BYD has become one of the most established e-bus makers in the world in the last 10 years while also being one of the largest electric vehicles manufacturers in the last three years. In recent months, has secured Europe’s largest single order of 246 buses to Dutch global public transport provider Keolis Nederland BV. The company have also won the largest order for pure-electric buses outside of China to date, supplying 10002 electric buses to Bogota, Colombia.
BYD has deployed more than 60,000 electric buses around the world and have more than 18 million zero-emission electric miles driven across America. In the U.S, BYD America operates a bus and battery plant in Lancaster California.
North America is expected to be the fastest growing e-bus market in the world. Proterra has sold more than 1000 electric buses since 2004, making it the largest e-bus manufacturer in North America.
Proterra’s ZX5 Electric Transit Bus models boast some of the lowest operating costs and the largest range potential of buses of its kind — a whopping 329 miles on a single charge.
The California-based company develops its battery packs in house and back in 2019, launched a battery leasing program to minimise upfront costs and provide financing options for transit buyers.
The Biden administration’s plan to make all new American-built buses operate with zero emissions by 2030 is hugely advantageous to Proterra and other U.S. e-bus manufacturers, as it will allow access to critical resources to electrify transportation and drive domestic sales.
VDL Groep is a Netherlands based company that originally began as a family business and is now one of the leading heavy-duty electric transport providers in Europe. The company has manufacturing plants domestically and in Belgium.
Back in January, VDL received its largest order for electric buses from EBS. With no less than 193 new generation VDL Citeas, EBS will start the newly formed Zaanstreek-Waterland concession in December 2023.
Yutong has contributes significantly to China’s domination of heavy-duty electric vehicle sales and manufacturing. It is headquartered in Zhengzhou of central China’s Henan Province. Every year, Yutong’s new energy buses can reduce carbon emissions by 3,000,000 tons, which is equivalent to the CO2 absorption of a 7,000-hectare broad-leaved forest, greatly improving the urban atmospheric environment with significant social and environmental benefits.
Yutong has four manufacturing bases for conventional buses, new energy buses, special vehicles and parts & components.
The bus plants include five production procedures, 15 production lines as well as completed road test procedures, covering an area of 2,466,000 square meters with an annual production and sales volume of more than 70,000 units.
What does the future look like for electric bus fleets?
The United Nations has estimated that 2.5 billion people will live in cities by 2050 which will account for two thirds of the world’s population. Three million city buses already operate globally and more than 13%, over 385,000, are electric vehicles according to Bloomberg. Through the utilisation of electric bus fleets, cities could reduce a growing share of carbon emissions produced by their transportation systems.
However, introducing new fleets presents a series of hurdles for many city and transport authorities. Firstly, it is a huge initial investment for cities and although this is offset by lower operating costs, many do not have the finances to build the systems and infrastructure to accompany it. Investing in new electric transport could potentially mean that cities will have to rethink cities and update infrastructure.
Introducing new electric bus fleets goes beyond just simply replacing petrol powered buses, it requires a new charging infrastructure, ticketing and payment system and software that gathers vehicle movements, which proves to be highly resourceful for agencies.
These challenges can only be solved through private and public partnerships between national governments, city authorities, vehicle manufacturers and technology companies.
What cities are currently leading the way?
Last summer, the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration awarded $1.66 billion in grants funded by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), for the purchase of more than 1,800 new buses. Most of these were to be zero-emission. This investment in 150 bus fleets will help meet the U.S. government’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Due to this grant, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) mandated the transition to 100 percent zero-emission bus fleets by 2040. The company pledged to help with the transition to achieve their zero emissions goals.
The Los Angeles Country Metropolitan Transportation Authority (L.A. Metro) initiated the transition of its entire bus fleet and bus maintenance facilities from compressed natural gas to zero-emission technology. This is one of the most significant efforts to date.
Similarly, in San Diego, the North County Transit District (NCTD) said that it would provide planning support for a phased implementation to transition from diesel and compressed natural gas buses to battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Additionally, in London, the Mayor has invested more than £300 million to transform London’s bus fleet. Currently, the city has around 850 zero emission buses operating, with more looking to go into service once the infrastructure to support them has been built.
Across the globe in India, Mumbai is set to have the biggest e-bus fleet in the country as they expected 50 new electric double deckers to hit the road back in October which would take the bus fleet to over 450.
Throughout the globe there are companies and cities making huge efforts to electrify their fleet and hitting the highest low emission targets to date. If only we had the time to name them all. As public transport accounts for some of the highest emission percentages, it is vital that fleets and manufacturers make the transition to save our cities and their environment.