Electric buses: where are we?

Publié le : 04/03/2021

Present in our cities for many years, electric buses are only at the beginning of their expansion. A 2018 report (1) estimates that 1,000 electric buses can go from 500 barrels of fossil fuel every day to 15.

Today, a third of greenhouse gas emissions come from transport. A quarter of fine particles come from road traffic. Our cities are plagued by pollution. Air pollution but also noise. Many mayors are aware of this. They are working globally for a greener and healthier city. One of the levers used for the development of electric mobility (EVs such as electric scooter, electric bicycle, electric scooter, electric car, electric utility, electric truck and electric bus) is the implementation of low-carbon public transport. The Bloomberg report reports that since 2011, electric vehicles have reduced the growth in oil consumption by more than 3%. And, 3/4 of the reduction in this consumption comes from electric buses. Proof of this is that a large part of our energy transition must go through the generalization of electrified public transport.

In 2018, the same report, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, predicted a tripling of the number of electric buses by 2025. That is 1.2 million buses equivalent to half of the buses in circulation that would become electric buses.

Electric bus fleet

What development of electric buses in the world?

All over the world, the trend in urban areas is to ban thermal vehicles in favor of low-carbon mobility (electric car-sharing, bicycles and public transport with zero CO2 emissions, including ebuses). However, this generalization of electric buses, planned in the world, is happening at different rates depending on the country and city.

State of play of the development of electric buses in Asia

It is clear that China is by far the leader in terms of the deployment of electric buses. Indeed, to date, the country has more than 421,000 electric buses circulating in Chinese cities with a rate of circulation of 9,500 buses every 5 weeks. The figures are final. In 2018, 99% of ebuses in circulation in the world were located in China, reducing the demand for barrels of diesel by more than 270,000 barrels at the end of 2019.

Projection nombre de bus électriques en Chine

Projected number of electric bus in China(2)

How is it possible? With massive subsidies from the Chinese state. Take the example of the city of Shenzhen. Each year for 9 years, the public transport operator in Shenzhen has received state aid of 500,000 yuan (€ 64,000) per electric vehicle purchased. In 2017, the city had a fleet of 100% electric buses, representing 16,359 vehicles for 12 million inhabitants. 

At the same time, many other countries in Asia are increasing their efforts to electrify their public transport. For example, in 2019 Delhi was ordering 1,000 electric buses. This is the biggest ecological investment put in place by the city. But also, the biggest order after China.

Shenzen bus électriques

Shenzen electric buses – http://www.sz.gov.cn/

State of play of the development of electric buses in North America

Although the United States does not have more than 500 ebuses in the country, we have seen for several years, American cities and universities acquiring fleets of electric buses. With California being the most dynamic state on the subject, it has adopted a new rule that could be followed by many other states. This is the Innovative Clean Transit Rule (ICTR). From 2023, 25% of new buses purchased must be “zero emission”. Then, in 2029, 100% of orders from California transport agencies.

California’s goal is to convert its 12,000 city buses to 100% electric by 2040. Goal boosted with the arrival of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles. To date, the city has 2,200 buses and only 5 electric buses. In 2020, these 5 buses will be supplemented by 100 new electric buses.

Bus électrique Los Angeles

The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti, discovering an example of electric bus (Credits – Official Twitter page / Mayor Eric Garcetti)

Dominion Energy has dared to propose to integrate the cost difference between a diesel and an electric and to develop the charging infrastructure on the entire American public network, by 2030.

In Canada, line 36 is the first fully electrically developed, after two years of testing, it is validated and proves that electric buses can withstand the Canadian winter. Charging is done at the end of the line. User surveys gave a satisfaction rate of 98%.

State of play of the development of electric buses in South America

The World Bank is active in the development of clean transport on the continent. It works to install the best conditions for development, taking into account the constraints of each country. But also by setting up a support mechanism.

Chile is the first country to provide electric buses. In the city of Santiago, 18 million trips are made every day. Of which 30% by public transport. This is why the capital wants to replace all of its fleet by 2040. To date, Santiago has 200 electric buses in circulation for 6 million inhabitants. In December 2019, Transdev Chile also launched its first autonomous electric shuttle project there with a capacity of 12 people.

Bus électrique Chili


But, public electric mobility is booming in other Latin American countries. Indeed, in March 2019, Guayaquil, the most populous city in Ecuador, inaugurated a fleet of 20 electric buses. These 20 buses will transport 10,500 users daily. In Colombia, the city of Cali is finalizing the commissioning of 125 electric buses. And the city of Medellin is waiting for its 64 electric buses, already ordered. The Costa Riva, a pioneer in renewable energies, speaks of a fleet of buses and electric taxis by 2050. And finally, Argentina, Colombia and Panama have national strategies. These strategies are supported by the MOVE platform with the support of the Euroclima + project and UN environment.

State of play of the development of electric buses in Europe

The new rules adopted by the European Union in February 2019 require that a quarter of new buses purchased by public authorities be “clean” by 2025. Ratio which will rise to one third from 2030. The expansion of bus lines in European cities will therefore intensify considerably in the years to come. At the same time, 40 cities (including Paris, Berlin, London, Copenhagen, Barcelona, ​​Rome and Rotterdam) have signed the C40 Declaration for fossil-free streets, in order to achieve zero-emission bus fleets by 2025.

Upstream, between 2013 and 2018, Europe adopted an ambitious program, ZeEUS. The objective is to test electrification solutions at the heart of the urban bus system network. Today, the 90 urban demonstrators facilitate the adoption of the electric bus market in Europe.

Programme ZeEUS - Développement des bus électrique en Europe

The European Union and the expansion of electric buses

The best European country being the Netherlands (100% electric). The country estimates that one in four buses will run on electric power by the end of 2020. But for several years, the transformation has been underway in all European countries. In London, 3 100% electric lines already exist, out of a total of 8,000 buses. The city hopes for a fully electric fleet by 2037. Germany aims to acquire 3,000 electric buses to electrify most of the fleets in Berlin, Cologne, Frankfurt, Hamburg and Munich.

Europe is still lagging behind China. In 2025, 99% of electric buses in circulation in the world will still be in China. And the world leaders in electric bus manufacturers are Chinese: Ankai, BYD, Foton, Shandong Yixing, Yutong, Zhongtong… far ahead of the French and Europeans Volvo, Iveco, Solaris or Daimler, for example.

Distribution of electric and hybrid buses in Europe

Growth over the past year has been staggering, increasing the electric bus fleets from 1,289 buses (2018) to 2,561 buses (2019), equivalent to a doubling of the fleet and more than 2% of the total bus fleet (source: European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO) In 2019, 12% of city bus orders were for electric to reach 40% by 2025.


Evolution of electric bus fleets in Europe in 2019(3)

In terms of numbers, the best endowed country in Europe is the Netherlands with a fleet of around 800 vehicles. Sweden and France come next and Spain and Austria follow.


Top 5 European countries equipped with electric buses in 2019(3)

State of play of development in France

In 2015, France passed the Energy Transition Law for Green Growth aimed at effectively combating climate change. One of the axes of this law requires transport operators to renew their bus fleet (of more than 10 vehicles) by replacing them with low-emission buses. One of the solutions is the development of ebuses.

The city of Paris tested (with IES Synergy) its first power line (line 341) in 2017, and with its 2025 Climate Plan, aims to have 100% “carbon-free” public transport by 2025 with the replacement of its 4,700 buses. Today, this fleet of 4,700 buses is broken down as follows: 3,527 thermal buses, 950 hybrid buses, 83 ebuses and 140 bioNGV buses. The objective being, by 2025, to have a fleet with 2/3 electric buses and 1/3 biogas buses.

If Marseille was the first city in France to launch its 100% electric bus line, it now wants to convert around fifty buses per year and thus electrify its entire fleet by 2035, i.e. 630 city buses.

Communities are confidently committed to reducing pollution rates in cities. In fact, in France, a few cities have a 100% electric bus line. We have in particular: Paris, Marseille, Gaillac and the Nice airport shuttle. Many other cities are experimenting with the solution and are launching a few vehicles in their metropolitan area. We can quote Rouen, Nantes, Ajaccio, Rennes… To find the whole list, go here.


RATP electric bus – www.transbus.org

What projections for 2025?

Evolution of the number of buses in China, Europe and United States

China and its expansion towards electric is set to continue, an estimated 420,000 new electric buses purchased by 2025. Market growth and public aid should also allow a significant increase in electric bus fleets (approximately 40%).

The United States and Europe will also experience significant electricity growth. A report by Wood Mackensy estimates that by 2025, 40,000 heavy electric vehicles will be on the roads in Europe and the United States. For Europe, electrification is carried out mainly on the public and urban network, while the Americans mainly concentrate on the school network.

Focus on charging infrastructures

In China, the charging infrastructure for electric buses is rather well developed. As the number of lines and projects in Europe and the United States is still small, the recharging infrastructures are also so. Nevertheless, by 2025, the total number of charging stations will have more than doubled.

Projection infrastructure de recharge bus électrique

Estimation of electronic bus charging infrastructure by country(2)

To support the large-scale development of electric buses, from 2020 to 2025, more than 68,000 charging stations will be installed worldwide to meet the demand for recharging electric buses, including more than 9,000 in Europe and the United States. United.

IES Synergy solutions for electric buses

IES Synergy offers charging stations suitable for electric bus depots ensuring controlled consumption and clearly simplified maintenance. The result of several years of experience and operation in Paris, the Keywatt® 50 kW terminal has been specially designed for recharging electric buses at the depot during the night.

Up to two units can be paralleled for a 100 kW output, remotely controlled for intelligently programmed loads at night, it also guarantees optimal management of electricity consumption.

Our charging stations are designed for simplified maintenance. Indeed, the Keywatt® station is based on an hermetic design, without filter, allowing reduced maintenance and a greatly increased lifespan, the electronics being preserved from any contact with the outside. IES Synergy bus fleet chargers benefit from remote maintenance and upgrades and are designed to the highest industry standards. The level of service is thus guaranteed in all circumstances.

Discover our solutions for electric public transport.

Sources : (1) Report published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in 2017 – (2) Wood Mackensy Report – (3) European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO)