Prospects for Electric Bus and Charging Station Manufacturers

On January 17, 2022, Delhi Transport Corporation inducted its first 100% electric bus, marking a new era in public transportation in India’s capital.

By April, the government body plans to induct a total of 300 such buses and bring their total number to 2,000 in the next few years. In all, the Delhi government has given orders for 2,300 electric buses for the coming years. Similarly, in Santiago, Chile, already, 776 such automobiles are in operation, while Bogota government announced plans in January 2022 to procure 596 of these, thus expanding its battery-operated bus fleet to 1,485.

Thus, with the sustained government efforts to clean up their transportation systems, the global electric bus market is set to witness a massive 14.9% CAGR till 2026 since witnessing a sale of 82,604 units in 2020. Since individuals do not use these vehicles, the onus is on governments to ensure their widespread usage. Seeing government agencies, it can be hoped that even private transit agencies will be encouraged to procure them in the future.

Even elsewhere in the world, the race to induct these clean public transit automobiles is heating up. Although there were only around 300 e-buses operating in the U.S. in 2018, the coming years bear winds of change, as California, Seattle, and New York City have pledged to make their public transport systems 100% emission-free. If all goes as per plan, one-third of the buses in the country could be electric by 2045.

Equally brighter prospects for clean public transportation lie across the Atlantic; Berlin, the Deutsch capital, has 138 of these automobiles, with 90 more slated to be inducted this year. In total, Germany has 500 of these, while Poland already has 800 battery-operated buses in operation, the highest in Europe. Following Poland are the Netherlands and Italy, with around 600 vehicles each, as of May 2021. However, the U.K. is set to take the lead in e-bus procurement in Europe, with the government announcing a GBP 120-million funding for their purchase in March 2021.

Transport for London had 400 e-buses in the beginning of 2021, with 300 more slated to arrive by year-end. In all, by 2024, the U.K. is targeting a public transit fleet of 2,800 clean-energy buses, thus becoming home to the largest number of such automobiles in Europe. In the same vein, down under, New South Wales, Australia, is targeting to convert all its 8,000 conventional diesel buses to battery variants by 2030. Similarly, Brisbane City Council is working with Hitachi and ABB Ltd. to induct 60 high-capacity zero-emission buses branded as Brisbane Metro Vehicles.

However, the undisputed global leader in bus electrification has been China, with more than 421,000 of them already in operation in March 2021. Shenzhen alone had 16,000 electric buses as of February 2021, as per Forbes. Shenzhen Bus Company had 6,000 of these, which cover a million kilometers every day. They are supported by more than 18,000 charging stations across the city. Moreover, as per the IEA, 78,000 new battery-operated buses were registered in the country in 2020.

Surging Carbon Emissions and Falling Battery Costs Continue to Push up E-Bus Sales

The key reason behind governments making a conscious effort to convert their diesel buses to electric variants is the rising carbon emissions. As per reports, the transportation sector is now the biggest emitter of greenhouses gases, led by the proliferation of diesel and gasoline vehicles of all kinds. The larger the vehicle, the larger and more powerful the engine; hence, the higher the emissions. Therefore, it has become imperative to convert large vehicles to zero-emission variants, in order to make the air breathable again.

However, the biggest challenge in this regard is the high electric bus costs, which are themselves because of the high battery prices. The battery can account for up to 40% purchase price of any EV; therefore, as long as the battery is expensive, the automobile will be costly. Thankfully, with battery production booming in China and manufacturers advancing the technology of these energy storage devices, their prices have come down significantly. The per-kilowatt-hour purchase price of e-bus battery packs declined from $600 in 2015 to $150 in 2020.

The project, being undertaken for Mowasalat Fleet Management System, a private transit agency, includes 1,300 connectors, 89 opportunity chargers, and a total charging capacity of 125 MW. In all, global forecasts for e-bus charging station installation between 2020 and 2025 stand at over 65,000 units! Thus, with the growing consciousness regarding air pollution, even private transit agencies are procuring zero-emission buses, encouraged strongly by the government subsidies, tax and license fee exemptions, and other benefits provided on these automobiles.

Therefore, with governments around the world batting for clean transportation, e-buses are expected to become increasingly common on roads, in part, due to the burgeoning number of charging stations.


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