Buses are a bizarre combination of the best and worst of our transport solutions. In one regard they are big, bulky and typically pour out harmful emissions; but on the other, they are capable of carrying far more passengers than a car and so can potentially reduce emissions by limiting the number of vehicles on the road.
However, now the focus will be firmly on their advantages – because it appears the number of electric drive buses (pictured), including hybrid, battery electric and fuel cell buses, is set to escalate rapidly.
According to Pike Research, the number will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 26.4 per cent from 2012 to 2018.
Its report, entitled Electric Drive Buses, suggests that the Chinese market will lead this growth spurt, while some developed markets will experience fluctuations largely due to the fact that bus markets in general may experience a slow down at the end of stimulus funding and due to austerity measures.
It suggests that North America will enjoy a rebound in a few years when the economy stables; while sales of electric drive buses in Western Europe should see steady growth – at a rate of 20 per cent – as the hybrid market begins to take off. Latin America meanwhile, will be driven by large growth in Brazil.
In addition, Pike Research notes that hybrid buses are considered a “mature technology”, best suited to low speed, stop and go driving; while a parallel hybrid system is more suited to duty cycles. In 2011, sales of hybrid buses in China passed those in North America, with 1,700 units sold. Europe is considered behind on hybrid bus sales, despite stimulus in the UK which has led to a 50 per cent increase in their sales in recent years.
The Latin American market will be driven largely by uptake in Brazil, but other countries will also spur adoption, notably Uruguay which recently indicated it would purchase 500 battery electric buses. The Africa/Middle East countries will see very little uptake due to the high cost of electric buses and infrastructure, the report finds.
Meanwhile, battery electric buses are still in development in most parts of the world; while fuel cell buses are at a pre-commercial phase.
Paul is a freelance writer with a background in everything from motoring to finance; and holidays to women's undergarments he just writes about them, honestly! He has now sadly crept into his early 30s and seems to have forgotten everything learned at school Still, he's a green car fanatic and isn't that what counts?
You forgot to mention one form of electric bus I remember seeing in Chicago during my adolescent year (the 1960's): Trolley buses.
A common complaint against trolley buses was that they were so quiet in their operation, pedestrians (especially blind) were killed by them because they couldn't hear them coming. I imagine this could happen with buses using batteries, or fuel cells, or engine-powered hybrid buses with the engine not running at a given moment.
If we can resolve the safety issue (one way would be to use a transistor noise-maker that would simulate the sound of a Diesel engine), we could see electric transit coaches using overhead wires (i.e. trolley buses), fuel cells, lithium ion or other advanced batteries, or hybrid designs using Diesel generators as range extenders
August 22, 2012