MRO Magazine

IDTechEx: Death of the hybrid bus?

August 13, 2015 | By Business Wire News


Buses in China have enormous impact on the rest of the world. Dr Peter Harrop of analysts IDTechEx says, “In our new report “Electric Buses 2015-2025” ( we find that China will continue to make and use over 80% of all large electric buses. That gives them a much lower cost point from which they can export.”

At the stroke of a pen, the Chinese government killed off hybrid buses that do not plug in. They removed subsidies to focus on buses with zero pollution in city centres; plug-in hybrids with long pure-electric range and pure electric buses over 8 tonnes.

Such plug-in hybrid buses are complicated to make. They need a large lithium-ion battery because the supercapacitors typically used in non-plug-in buses cannot cope. They need a large piston engine. The transmission is complex. Other range extenders such as fuel cells are not yet economic. See the IDTechEx reports, “Fuel Cell Vehicles 2015-2025” and “Range Extenders for Electric Vehicles 2015-2025”.

Chinese manufacturers therefore prioritised solving the pure electric bus challenges – mainly getting better, cheaper batteries that last longer. In only two years they progressed from such bus batteries dying in only two years to viable (with subsidy) pure-electric buses of all sizes. Even articulated pure- electric buses sell. In China orders for large pure-electric buses of 1000 or more have been announced by several Chinese bus manufacturers.

Meanwhile, outside China and particularly in the West, many bus manufacturers have yet to offer a large pure-electric bus though US sales leader Proterra of the US only makes pure-electric. At EV Roadmap 8 in Oregon recently Proterra reported a buoyant if modest order book compared to the Chinese in China. The wine tour was in a large BYD pure-electric bus.

“Globally 69% of large electric buses made in 2025 will be pure-electric. The writing is on the wall for hybrid buses though they still sell strongly across the world. London, largest city in Europe, has thousands of British hybrid buses and a few British pure-electric large buses. It is now installing its first pure-electric bus route and it will test a BYD pure-electric double decker shortly” advises Harrop.

Teresa Henry
UK: +44-(0)-1223-812300
USA: +1-617-577-7890


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