Electric bus adoption in public transport urban fleet is growing all over the world. Starting from China. At the end of 2017 in Europe there were around 2,600 electric buses running (in the definition are included not only battery electric buses but also plugin hybrids, trolleybus IMC and fuel cell buses). A small part of the global circulating of 385,000 units of electric bus. More than 99 per cent are deployed in Chinese cities, as already mentioned. However, in 2017 in Europe 1,250 vehicles included in the ‘electric bus’ definition were ordered: around 10 percent of city bus market. And figures are growing fast and expected to reach 20 per cent of city buses market share in 2020. Also India (70,000 buses sold in 2017) is a market with big potential, when even a small part of the orders will be electric. And United States? Market penetration was at about 0.5% of the total U.S. public transit bus market at the end of 2017, but in the same time 9% of all transit agencies either had electric buses in service or on order. Things are moving fast!
Electric bus, 17 percent China circulating buses
According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, at the end of 2017 there were 3 million city buses in operation worldwide; of these, 385,000 belong to the category of electric bus. The incidence on the global fleet is therefore 13 per cent. However, this figure is misleading. In fact, almost all of the vehicles operate in China. Therefore, it would be more correct to say that in China the share of electric buses on the circulating city buses is already 17%. Elsewhere, we are still dealing with decimals. In China sales rose from 69 thousand units in 2015 to 132 thousand in 2016; 2017 marked a significant step backwards, following the reduction in subsidies: 90 thousand full electric buses and 16 thousand hybrid plug-in buses have been registered.
The electrification of Chinese fleets
The plans for electrification of Chinese public transport are quite ambitious. To give some known examples, the city of Shenzhen by the end of 2017 had committed to reach 100 per 100 of electric bus vehicles in operation (16,500 buses), Beijing aims at the goal of 10,000 by 2020, starting from 1,320 last year. In 2018 Guanzhou issued two tenders, the first for 3,138 and the second for 1,672 battery electric buses. A total of 4,810 electric buses. The winner? BYD will provide 4,473 units of electric bus. In September 2018, Yutong Bus declared it has achieved a total sales volume of 90,000 new energy buses in France, UK, Bulgaria, Iceland, Chile, and China Macau among others (Yutong’s annual sales volume, including every kind of bus and coach, exceeds 70,000 units).
According to data from the China Bus Statistics Information Union, in the context of the overall weakness of the Chinese bus market, which decreased by 13.5% in the first three quarters of 2018, a total of 55,658 new energy buses were sold in the Chinese market, with a year-on-year increase of over 20%.
Vdl Bus & Coach, the electric bus is reality in the Netherlands
At the end of 2018, the largest fleet of electric bus in Europe is the one operated by Connexxion around Schipol airport. VDL Bus & Coach has supplied 100 electric buses to Connexxion (part of Transdev) for the Amstelland Meerlanden concession, which were put in service on 1 April 2018. The order of electric buses for Amstelland Meerlanden‘s electric bus fleet is still the largest order for Vdl Bus & Coach, and with 100 electric buses it is the largest electric bus fleet within a single operation in Europe. A number of lines in this concession even operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The 100 articulated e-buses collectively cover up to 30,000 km per day and are fitted with the latest generation of quick-charging batteries. These batteries are charged in 20 minutes or less at charging points along the route, allowing 24-hour service.
Rotterdam and electric bus. By VDL
In 2018, the Dutch manufacturer VDL Bus & Coach has been award with a 55 units of electric bus contract by Rotterdam public transport operator RET. VDL will also provide the charging infrastructures. Everything should be ready by the end of 2019. Each electric bus will be charged over night at depot and during the service with rapid charging system. Also more that 100 hybrid buses will be ordered by Ret, as the general manager announced. During the same year 2018, also the Dutch public transport company EBS put 10 units of the electric bus VDL Citeas SLFA-181 in service.
Remaining in the Netherlands, in The Hague, Heliox delivered to HTM a fast charging system for the charging operations of 9 VDL electric buses.
However, VDL, though being the main, is not the only player in the Netherlands: Syntus (Keolis group) officially inaugurated in 2018 two BYD electric buses for Amersfoort.
Electric bus in Uk, Stagecoach docet
105 new double decker units of electric bus to be introduced in the fleet between 2019 and 2020. It’s the plan revealed by the British operator Stagecoach. The investment will be around £56m (34.6m from the company, 21.5 from the government). Enviro400 EV City by ADL – BYD is the electric bus model involved in the project. The zero emission vehicles will run in Greater Manchester aerea. The first buses are expected to go in operation from summer 2019. The new fleet should be fully in place by early 2020. Stagecoach has pledged to invest £34.6m in the project, which is backed by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, Transport for Greater Manchester and other key organisations, states the press release by Stagecoach. The plans are dependent on a bid for £21.5m in support from the Government’s recently announced Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. In the first days of 2019, Stagecoach received its first electric buses by ADL – BYD, ready to be deployed in Guildford.
Electric bus adoption and smart garage in London
As widely known, London is the leader of the transition to electric buses in the UK, and also in Europe. BYD and ADL delivered in November 2018 a 36 vehicles electric bus order in the capital city. But the big news is not necessarily this one. What is also very interesting is that the companies, together with the strategic partner SSE, transformed the historic and land-locked RATP Dev Shepherd’s Bush garage in West London into an advanced, smart electric bus operating centre, that is expected to become the company’s first zero emission bus garage in London. According to the plans, by 2037 all buses in London (about 8,000) will be zero-emission.
Solaris, the main European electric bus manufacturer
One of the European leader in electric bus manufacturing, in 2018, is Solaris Bus & Coach. The company, Polish-based but taken over by Spanish group CAF, a change followed by the designation of Javier Calleja as new Ceo, will reinforce the fleet of Hamburg public transport operator Hochbahn with 10 Solaris Urbino 12 electric. The Senate of Hamburg has decided that, as of 2020, all buses bought by local carriers should be electric zero-emission vehicles.
Several deliveries were performed by Solaris during 2018: three articulated vehicles went to Barcelona (where also two Irizar ie tram were supplied to TMB), five Urbino 12 Electric inaugurated Frankfurt’s transition plan with deadline 2030, the first units of zero emission bus were delivered to Baltic countries (Latvia).
Volvo, the voice of electric bus in the Nordics
Volvo Buses has been the first manufacturer to stop the production and commercialization of dieseI buses for European market, at the moment of the entrance into force of Euro VI standard. Volvo hometown, Gotheburg, has taken the lead in the transition to zero emission bus system in Sweden. Volvo Buses, indeed, in 2018 received an order for 30 electric buses 7900 from Gs Buss, subsidiary of Göteborgs Spårvägar, and Public Transport Authority Västtrafik. It is the biggest order so far for all-electric buses in Sweden (former biggest order was the one received by VDL from Umeå municipality, consisting of 25 e-buses), and also Volvo Buses’ biggest order to date for this model. Volvo Buses announced also the sale of 23 electric buses to Leiden in Netherlands (for Arriva) and another 17 to Oslo. In the capitol city of Norway will run also 40 electric buses by VDL and 42 by BYD.
The first European plant just for electric bus. By Irizar
Irizar, on its side, inaugurated on 11th of May 2018 the first European plant totally dedicated to electromobility. 18.000 square meters of gross floor area on 4 hectars plot, situated in the town of Aduna, Gipuzkoa (close to San Sebastian) is the place where Irizar is building, and will build, all its electric vehicles and parts. Irizar is the first manufacturer of buses to boast a plant focused on emobility and, furthermore, to build the whole electric bus, components included, in house, thanks to the different companies of the group. The inauguration of Aduna plant has also been the occasion to present to press and customers from all over the world the first truck manufacturer by Irizar: the ie truck. Electric, needless to say.
Ten electric buses ie bus by Irizar have been purchased by Voyages Emile Weber group in Luxemburg. Six of them have just been put into service, the others will arrive by the end of 2018. Still in the same year 2018, Irizar e-mobility signed a contract with RDT 13 that includes the delivery and the maintenance of 15 units of Irizar ie tram electric bus, belonging to the last generation of electric buses realized by the Basque manufacturer. The vehicles will be deployed on the roads of Aix en Provence.
Mercedes eCitaro, the electric version of a besteller
While VDL, Solaris, Volvo and Irizar began in advance to realize electric buses, other big manufacturers such as Mercedes, MAN and Iveco are going to start electric bus production in 2019-2020. In summer 2018 Mercedes showcased the eCitaro, its first battery electric bus, before the world premiere at IAA 2018. The serial production will begin by the end of 2018. The electric bus is moved by ZF electric portal axle Ave130. The electric Citaro features a innovative thermal management. Two orders, in the very first months, has been placed: one from BVG Berlin for 15 units, the other from Hamburger Hochbahn for 20 vehicles.
The first units of eCitaro were delivered in the last days of 2018 and the first of 2019. The very first series production model of Mercedes’ electric bus was supplied to Hamburg. BVG Berlin followed and then Mannheim and Heidelberg, where three Mercedes eCitaro are operating for Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH. Mercedes eCitaro is also competing with Solaris Urbino 12 Electric for a 250 electric bus tender issued by ATM Milano. The public transport company is targeting a zero emission bus fleet by 2030.
The electric bus by MAN. In 2020
And MAN? The Lion’s City E, also presented to the public at IAA 2018, will be equipped with central electric motor and depot charging. The mass production will start in the second half of 2020. The battery size is a real surprise: with 480 kWh for the solobus and 640 kWh for the articulated, MAN Lion’s City electric is an absolutely unique case in a context that sees battery usually ranging from 240 kWh to 350 kWh. The company is operating on the assumption that around 66% of scheduled-service buses will be electric by 2030.
Scania: electric bus toward serial production
Electric bus by Scania is moving forward toward serial production. Three Citywide LF electric have been tested since the end of 2017 in the Swedish northern city of Östersund on a 14 km line equipped with two charging stations at both ends of the line. The electric bus has been shown at IAA in Hannover in november 2018, where Scania unveiled the first LNG coach in the world. Following six-month trials of the battery electric Scania Citywide in the northern Swedish city of Östersund, results are encouraging and Scania is moving forward toward serial production. In early 2019 other three electric buses will be added to Nettbuss’ network.
Heuliez, the electric bus by CNH Industrial
Heuliez Bus is the brand of CNH Industrial that produces, in the French plant in Rorthais, electric and hybrid buses, beyond those fuelled with diesel and gas. The plant employs 420 people, of whom 10 per cent are engineers. The 12-metre and the articulated electric bus (named GX 337 Electric and GX 437 Electric respectively) are driven by an asynchronous central electric motor built by the English company BAE. The vehicle has been chosen by Stadtbus Rottweil for the local public transport in the city of Rottweil (Baden-Wuerttemberg).
Electric bus from China to Europe
When talking about electric buses, Chinese figures are striking. The ‘Electric Buses in Cities’ report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, published in spring 2018, tells about this wide-ranging revolution. In 2016 China was able to register 340 electric city buses every single day. In the same year 2016, Europe put about 70 buses on the road each day, regardless of the category (urban, intercity, coaches) and the kind of fuel. In this epochal change toward electric buses adoption, Europe and United States still have the role of background actors.
And India? An interesting electric bus market
What’s going with regards to Indian electric bus market? With over 70,000 buses above 6 tonne sold last year, the Indian bus market represents a significant portion of the 430,000 buses above 6 tonne sold globally. If only a small percentage of these were to be electric, it could easily become the second largest market behind China. The consulting company Interact Analysis have been tracking publicly confirmed orders for city electric buses totalling 932 units as well as publicly stated intentions to order a total of 1243 units since the start of 2018 to October of the same year. Excluding China, this accounts for more than 24.9% of the global orders we’re tracking.
In US electric bus adoption + 83% in 2017
According to the consulting company Eb Start Consulting, during 2017 the number of electric buses delivered to US public transit agencies grew 83 percent (182 electric buses in service at 1/1/17, 383 one year later). Although market penetration remains low at about 0.5% of the total U.S. public transit bus market, 9% of all transit agencies either had electric buses in service or on order at the end of 2017. The market leaders? Proterra and BYD, both of which have recently tripled their manufacturing capacity to keep up with the demand. New Flyer come third.
Things are changing in the US
In 2018 Foothill Transit (that operate just outside Los Angeles) has ordered its first double decker electric bus (and first double decker as well). A double premiere on the streets of the Californian city. The buses will be realized by Alexander Dennis, a real authority in the field, with Proterra’s battery system and drivetrain technology, and will hit the road from 2019. IndyGo, the largest public transportation provider in the American state of Indiana, and BYD announced the delivery of the first K11 60-foot (18 meters) battery electric bus to serve Indianapolis. The bus is the first of 13 ordered for the Red Line by IndyGo (also 18 electric buses have been reportedly ordered for the planned Purple Line).
Electric bus in the US? A clean choice!
Across the United States, an electric bus has lower global warming emissions than a diesel and natural gas one, even in cities with power grids that depend on coal and natural gas power plants, according to an analysis released in 2018 by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). The study found that an electric bus produce less than half of the global warming pollution of diesel or natural gas bus on average. If a diesel bus attained 12 miles (instead of 4,8) per gallon… then it would be as clean as an electric bus, according to UCS’s study.
Proterra and Daimler for US electric school bus market
Proterra and Daimler look at the electrification of North American school bus market. Together. At IAA Hannover 2018 Proterra announced that it has closed a $155 million investment round co-led by Daimler, the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles. Tao Capital Partners co-led the round, joined by G2VP and other technology investors. Proterra and Daimler have entered into an agreement to explore the electrification of select Daimler heavy-duty vehicles. And the launch of the first electric school bus realized by Proterra and Thomas Built Buses (subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America) together was officially announced by Proterra in the end of October during the 44th Annual National Association of Pupil Transportation (NAPT) Conference
Latin America, electric bus transition. Now!
Between 2018 and 2019 two important south American cities announced big plans of transition to electric buses of their public transport fleet. Chile aims to have the second largest electric bus fleet in the world after China. Santiago de Chile already received 200 electric buses from China: half are Yutong branded, the other half are BYD buses. Santiago paved the way, Medellin follows. A few weeks after the delivery of 100 BYD electric buses to Santiago, the Colombian city ordered 64 zero emission buses from BYD, thus making the first steps towards the first electric fleet in the Latin American country.