MRO Magazine

IDTechEx: Death of the hybrid bus?

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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