Chinese e-buses displace diesel
Chinese cities add 9,500 electric buses to their transport operations every five weeks. And China was able to boast 99% of the 385,000 e-buses on the roads globally in 2017, accounting for almost one-fifth of the country’s entire fleet, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
And each batch of 1,000 battery-powered buses on the road, displaces 500 barrels of diesel fuel from the market each day, says BNEF. This year, the volume of fuel these vehicles take off the market could spike to 279,000 barrels a day.
“This segment is approaching the tipping point,” says Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at BNEF. “City governments all over the world are being taken to task over poor urban air quality. This pressure isn’t going away, and electric bus sales are positioned to benefit.”
BNEF reckons the biggest challenge for electric buses remains their high upfront cost compared to equivalent diesel buses. That’s why new business models are emerging, involving battery leasing, joint procurement and bus sharing. Most of these are being implemented in North America and Europe, where e-bus purchase prices are typically much higher than in China.
“Another challenge shared by different cities considering e-buses is the uncertainty around the residual value of the bus, which in turn is driven by uncertainty around the lifetime of the battery and end-of-life options,” says BNEF in its new Electric Buses in Cities report. “One solution to help address this issue is to introduce policies that regulate the end-of-life requirements for batteries, and provide clear responsibilities to the different parties involved. As the market for e-buses and lithium-ion batteries matures, some of these concerns will be reduced.”