China Has 421,000 Electric Buses

Two years ago we were all stunned watching a video from China, where hundreds of electric buses from BYD were clogging both the delivery lot and the highway. It was one delivery of the total of 16,395 buses that Shenzhen hat ordered to replace its Diesel bus fleet.

Now Bloomberg reports the newest global numbers of electric buses. Worldwide the number of electric buses increased 2018 by 32 perceent to about 425,000. Of those 421,000, a share of 99 percent, are in China. Europa has around 2,250 electric buses and the USA meager 300 on the roads.

The total number of municipal electric buses in China is expected to grow to 611,000 in 2025, while the US will have around 4,750 and Europe 12,000. It’s estimated that 18 percent of all buses on the roads in China today are electric.

There are a number of reasons why China is dominating. The government has advised local governments and administration to electrify their bus fleets and is providing substantial subsidies. The environmental problems that Chinese cities have been facing is another strong motivator, forcing the country to act. Those initiatives are also aimed at strenghtening local manufacturers and prepare theem for global compettition. And not least, from the over 130 cities with populations of a million and more inhabit, many are very young without a history of combustion engine bus fleets and old bureaucracies with preferences.

Europe and the U.S. have seen electric bus purchases mostly as an addition to existing fleets, not as a replacement. Also those countries do not really have nation-wide masterplans that support the move from combustion to electric bus fleets, and not even subsidies as a incentive for cities and communities. The European Union at least requires zero emission vehicles from 2025 on.

Bloomberg also estimates that 1,000 electric buses save 500 barrel oil per day in imports. An obstacle is the high purchasing cost of an electric bus, which due to the battery costs can be twice as high as a conventional bus. But then the energy and maintenance costs are lower. Manufacturers like Proterra in California offer to lease the battery to reduce upfront costs.

BYD has sold its electric buses to over 300 cities globally, including some European countries like Norway, England, or Poland.

This article has also been published in German.

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