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Global electric bus utilisation to triple by 2025



Given all of the fanfare around electric cars at last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show it’d be easy to overlook the rapid electrification of other automotive segments – most notably commercial and transit vehicles, but a new report from Wood Mackenzie suggests that global electric bus adoption is gaining at an equally rapid rate and is set to triple by 2025.
Global electric bus utilisation to triple by 2025
(China is leading the way with e-bus adoption. Image via New Flyer).

E-bus adoption is being led by China, which will surpass the 1 million e-bus mark by 2023 and reach 1.3 million by 2025. In fact, such is the country’s rate of adoption that China accounted for 98% of the global e-bus market though 2018. This rapid growth in e-bus use has been accompanied by the installation of more 50,000 e-bus charging points. Between 2019 and 2025 the number of charging points is set to double.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Timotej Gavrilovic, Wood Mackenzie Contributing Research Analyst, said:

“In 2018, 23% of bus purchases in China were electric. Overall bus purchases in the country are expected to remain stable, with 420,000 new purchases by 2025. Electric bus purchases are expected to increase along with further market growth and continuing government support, reaching 40% of new bus purchases globally in 2040.”

Post-2025 e-bus growth for US and Europe

Markets outside of China will also see an uptick in e-bus adoption, albeit at a slower rate. The Wood Mackenzie report concludes that in the US and European markets a total of 40,000 electric heavy-duty vehicles will be on the roads by 2025. 

Reasons for the US and Europe’s limited take-up of e-buses are varied with Gavrilovic, saying:

“Most transit and school bus operators are still wary of e-buses as a new technology and will continue testing the equipment prior to investing in scaling current deployments. However, government and transit agencies have clean transportation targets that should accelerate growth beyond 2025. Long-haul e-buses are not expected to enter the market before 2023 and will likely be limited to 1% of new sales through 2025. European e-bus growth is driven by urban bus deployments, while the US market is driven by transit and school e-buses.”

“Government, school bus operators and transit agencies are not the only organisations impacting and influencing electrification. US and European utilities are beginning to examine new models to support clustered charging at depots and encourage operators to manage charging for the benefit of the grid. Dominion Virginia Power offered the most aggressive proposal yet, to develop the charging infrastructure and pay the cost difference between a diesel bus and an electric bus for 100% of all diesel bus replacements in their service territory by 2030.”
Cumulative e-bus charging infrastructure estimate by country
(Image via Wood Mackenzie).

Charging infrastructure in ‘catch-up’ mode

Whilst charging infrastructure is already increasing in China, growth in Europe and the US has been limited to date. However, by 2025 all three regions will have a cumulative total of 108,000 charging points – indicating that between now and then the US and Europe will be in ‘catch-up’ mode.

Gavrilovic comments:

“Over 68,000 depot chargers will be installed globally from 2019 to 2025 to meet EV bus charging demand, with more than 9,000 located in Europe and the US. Following larger deployments of e-buses beyond 2025, and potential synergies with e-truck and e-fleet charging, a higher e-bus-to-EVSE ratio can be expected. This would lead to a slower rate of growth for infrastructure in relation to bus demand. Our forecast assumes all e-bus chargers are depot chargers. In practice this is not always the case, as on-route charging will represent a fraction of the chargers deployed. On-route charging will most commonly be used in intracity transit applications, as their routes are pre-determined. A higher percentage of on-route chargers will increase the number of charging points deployed per bus and lower the battery size required for buses to operate.”

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Global electric bus utilisation to triple by 2025 - Time to read 4 min
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