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Electric buses are the future of public transport and China is leading the charge

In June 2017 the first ever Australian-built electric bus was commissioned by Precision Buses, a South Australian transport manufacturer.

At the same time, Perth is one of only three cities in the world to operate a pioneering electric bus that is also fully-automated.

Despite this, Australia has a long way to go if it wants to catch up with the electric bus surge sweeping across China.

The global market for electric buses is forecasted to triple in size over the next seven years and world’s most populous country will be sitting on the lion’s share.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 99% of the planet’s electric buses will be in China by 2025.

This is mainly due to high demand and a strong state-backed push to curb carbon emissions and meet ambitious targets.

Nowhere is this trend more visible than in the city of Shenzen, a major metropolis directly North of Hong Kong.

With a population of 12.5 million, it is no small accomplishment for the city to operate an all-electric bus fleet, which it achieved last year.

Shenzen is now the face of China’s green energy public transport push, running 16,359 electric buses. That’s more than New York, Chicago, LA and Toronto combined!

Nationwide China contains 385,000 electric buses and every ten weeks another 19,000 are added to the ranks (that’s twice the size of London’s fleet).

Looking at the figures alone it’s hard not to be impressed by this rapid overhaul, but wait till you compare it to how other countries are fairing.

The Manhattan Transport Authority has plans to add 1,700 new buses to New York’s roads over the next four years… and over 75% of them will be diesel-fuelled!

That means for every new electric bus on the streets of the Big Apple there will 950 hitting the streets of Chinese cities.

An electric bus consumes around 30 times as much fuel as a regular car so there has been a visible reduction in demand.

China requires approximately 500 barrels of diesel less for every 1,000 electric buses it operates. BYD, the Chinese manufacturing company that built Shenzen’s fleet, estimates that it’s buses have saved 1.8 billion gallons of fuel to date.

This is promising news indeed to be coming out of a country that, in the previous decade, was infamous for it’s rising air pollution levels.

Over the next few years, as cities including London, Paris, LA, New York and Amsterdam struggle to meet their goals of being emission-free by 2025, demand may turn to China.

BYD has the expertise and the practice to put the country at the happy end of a global market that is only getting bigger. Smart move.

About the author

Milo Sumner is a day-dreamer, living and breathing in London. When feeling low, he tends to cut loose and chase after dogs in the park. Otherwise he can usually be found pondering what to have for lunch.