The global market for electric buses has been thriving due to the increasing severity of environmental issues around the world. However, amongst emerging countries, China is the only country taking steps for curbing vehicular pollution by introducing a huge number of electric buses. On the other hand, the volatile prices of crude oil and the rising focus of transit agencies on reducing operational costs are amongst the prime factors working in favor of the electric buses market globally. Currently, high-end product launches by key players indicate the rising level of competition within the market for electric buses.
There are 3 types of electric buses, namely pure electric, plug-in hybrid electric, and hybrid electric buses. Amongst these, the segment of hybrid buses leads the market. Hybrid buses have a number of advantages such as higher passenger comfort, lack of exhaust fumes, very low operating costs, and environment-friendly technology, among others. Hybrid energy bus fleets have already been adopted in more than thirty states in the U.S., six European countries, and three Canadian provinces, and are being introduced in Asia Pacific, too. This technology is capable of saving more fuel and is poised to flourish in the coming years. The prime advantages of hybrid buses over conventional diesel buses are as follows:
Practically Zero Emission: Hybrid buses are predicted to reduce emissions by as much as 75% as compared to conventional diesel buses, since a large part of the power comes from non-fossil-fuel sources. The emissions are also reduced owing to the ultra-low-sulfur diesel fuel used along with the particulate trap technology of the hybrid system. This is why hybrid buses are also more health-friendly as compared to conventional diesel buses.
Excellent Performance Capabilities: Hybrid buses feature faster and smoother acceleration as compared to non-hybrid counterparts owing to the high low-end torque offered by electric motors. In addition, it has also been observed that these buses present a quieter ride in comparison with conventional diesel buses, due to the absence or reduced size of internal combustion engines.
Reduced Costs: Hybrid buses have lower maintenance costs owing to the low amount of stress on mechanical components including brake linings, extending brake life by 50% to 100%. Furthermore, these buses have fewer parts and hence need less maintenance as compared to traditional diesel buses.
Increased Fuel Efficiency: Hybrid buses have presented a significant rise in fuel economy in comparison to diesel buses. Fuel has proven to be a huge expense for transit fleets and represents about $700 mn annually, equaling about 3% of operating costs. Due to the increasing cost of diesel, the increased fuel efficiency presented by hybrid buses may result in significant cost savings.
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Thus, hybrid buses offer a number of advantages over conventional diesel buses, thus boosting the overall market for electric buses. However, the rising preference for natural-gas-fuelled buses may impede the growth of the overall electric buses market.
The prime players dominant in the market are AMZ-Kutno, Finmeccanica, Power Vehicle Innovation, Proterra, Inc., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Smith Electric Vehicles, Environmental Performance Vehicles, and Optare, among others.