A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for medium and heavy duty electric drive buses, providing an analysis of key market and technology issues, policies, and manufacturer profiles.
In the electric drive bus market, costs of key components such as batteries, motors, and power electronics are declining thanks to increasing volume. These improvements are helping plug-in hybrid and battery electric buses become more viable for fleets, and sales are poised to grow across all geographic markets through 2027.
According to the report, orders for plug-in electric buses have boomed in the past 18 months, with a 40 percent increase in sales from 2016 to 2017, as the technology on offer from bus companies has improved in performance and in price.
Despite increasing sales of electric buses, conventional engines will continue to be the powertrain of choice for buses in many markets during the next 10 years, according to the report. The upfront cost for an electric drive bus continues to be an issue; thus, adoption tends to be focused in regions with government support. In all regions except for China, hybrid buses are expected to continue to capture greater market share than plug-in buses in the near-term, thanks to the lower price premium, lack of infrastructure investment, and the wealth of real-world operational experience.
The market for new buses represents approximately 17% of the overall sales of new commercial vehicles. Global bus sales are expected to grow from just more than 800,000 in 2017 to more than 1 million in 2027. In 2017, the conventional diesel powertrain is expected to account for about 58% of total bus sales; by 2027, this is forecast to fall to about 51%. The difference is made up by the stronger sales growth expected in all alternative fuel buses. Electric (including all types of hybrid) powertrain buses are expected to grow from about 21% of the total bus market in 2017 to about 22% in 2027 as the overall market grows at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.9%.
“Transit agencies are interested in battery electric buses, thanks to their potential for lower operating costs in addition to having zero emissions and reduced noise,” says Lisa Jerram, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “New orders for electric buses are growing rapidly, although the transition to battery electric buses will take many years, as agencies test the technology and bus manufacturers ramp up production.”