Global orders for plug-in electric buses have boomed in the past 18 months, with a 40% increase in sales from 2016 to 2017, as the technology on offer from bus companies has improved in performance and in price, according to a new report from Navigant Research.
In the medium- and heavy-duty electric drive bus market, the report says, costs of key components such as batteries, motors, and power electronics are declining, thanks to increasing volume. These improvements are helping plug-in hybrid and battery electric buses become more viable for fleets, and sales are poised to grow across all geographic markets through 2027.
“Transit agencies are interested in battery electric buses, thanks to their potential for lower operating costs in addition to having zero emissions and reduced noise,” says Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “New orders for electric buses are growing rapidly, although the transition to battery electric buses will take many years, as agencies test the technology and bus manufacturers ramp up production.”
Despite increasing sales of electric buses, however, the report says conventional engines will continue to be the powertrain of choice for buses in many markets during the next 10 years. The upfront cost for an electric drive bus continues to be an issue; thus, adoption tends to be focused in regions with government support. In all regions except for China, the report notes, hybrid buses are expected to continue to capture greater market share than plug-in buses in the near-term, thanks to the lower price premium, lack of infrastructure investment, and the wealth of real-world operational experience.