Many of us didn’t see it coming, but electric buses are taking the world by storm. The reality far from what happened at an industry conference in Belgium seven years ago where electricity-powered vehicles were seen as a joke. The Chinese manufacturer BYD Co. showed the first electric bus model in the said conference, and now it seems the company had the last laugh.
“Everyone was laughing at BYD for making a toy,” said Isbrand Ho, the company’s managing director in a statement with Bloomberg. “And look now. Everyone has one.”
Buses with battery-powered motors are becoming the potential revolutionary-triggers towards the transformation of city transport. China is the leading manufacturers of these electric buses that are a serious threat to the oil industry.
In 2017, China produced 99 percent of the 385,000 electric buses worldwide. 17 percent of the coaches in China are battery-powered. 9,500 electric buses are created by the nation every five weeks, which is equivalent to the entire number of buses in London. The jaw-dropping numbers came from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
With this amount of zero-emissions transport being used all over the world, it’s no surprise that the demand for oil has substantially reduced. Buses consume 30 times more fuel than the regular passenger sedans, like what the companies Tesla Inc. to Toyota Motor Corp. produce.
According to the calculations from BNEF, every 1000 electric buses replaces 500 barrels of oil in the market. BNEF expects that this year, a rise of 37 percent of not needed fuel to 279,000 barrels per day may be observed due to battery-powered vehicles including cars and light trucks. According to BNEF, it’s the same amount of fuel that Greece consumes. About 233,000 of those barrels account for buses.
“This segment is approaching the tipping point,” according to the head of advanced transport at the London-based research unit of Bloomberg LP, Colin McKerracher. “City governments all over the world are being taken to task over poor urban air quality. This pressure isn’t going away, and electric bus sales are positioned to benefit.”
Based on non-profit Berkeley Earth, China contributed to the deaths of 1.6 million people in 2015 due to over-population, high demands for energy, and pollution leading to the country’s deadly smog. One of the nation’s crucial steps in preventing the situation from getting worse is by creating battery-powered buses and other types of vehicles.
Ten years ago, Shenzhen was one of the most polluted cities in China. Due to the region’s notorious smog, the government decided to run a pilot program for energy conservation and zero-emissions transport in 2009. After two years, BYD established a headquarters on Shenzhen where they produced battery-operated buses. In less than a year, all of Shenzhen’s buses were zero-emissions.
Around 2016, BYD holds 13 percent of China’s electric buses. The company produced 14,000 of the vehicles in Shenzhen. Ho said in an interview with Bloomberg that BYD could produce 15,000 vehicles a year, and now it has built 35,000 battery-operated transport.
Ever since BYD produced electric buses, the company estimates, their vehicles logged 10 billion miles and had saved 1.8 billion gallons of fuel. According to Ho, their zero-emissions transport helped avoid 18 million mass of carbon dioxide pollution each year. It’s the same amount of pollution that 3.8 million fueled cars produce.
“The first fleet of pure electric buses provided by BYD started operation in Shenzhen in 2011,” Ho told Bloomberg. “Now, almost ten years later, in other cities the air quality has worsened while—compared with those cities—Shenzhen’s is much better.”
Cities all over the globe are also moving towards the zero-emission transport change. 13 cities including Paris, London, Mexico City and Los Angeles committed to this fully adopt it by 2025.
In fact, London already has electric buses in the city’s four routes. London’s single-decker units in the city center are being transformed into electric-powered vehicles. By 2037, London plans to clean its public transport and make it all emission-free, including the city’s retrofitting 5,000 old diesel ones.
The shift towards emission-free transport of these cities will have an impact in the oil market. Just a single network in London draws 1.5 million barrels of fuel a year. For every 1,000 buses, 430 barrels of fuel a day will be displaced from the market if the entire city goes emissions-free. According to BNEF, that’s 0.7 percent of United Kingdom’s diesel consumption.
In 2017, there were 344 battery-operated and electric-hybrid buses across the UK. BYD has its fingers-crossed to be picked as one of the suppliers who will add to the amount of transport. The company partnered with a bus manufacturer based in Scotland, who will provide the batteries for the 11 emissions-free buses that will hit the road in March.
The Alexander Dennis Ltd. in Falkirk has become the leader in the production of electric buses European market since 2016. The company has more than 170 vehicles in U.K. alone.
“The tech is ready,” Ho told Bloomberg. “We are ready, we have our plants in China, and Alexander Dennis in Scotland is geared up for TfL. Once we’re given the word, we are ready to go.”
Enjoy this video that sheds light on the Proterra Electric bus setting a world record for distance traveled on a single charge: