Electric buses are the future of public transport as many European countries decarbonise their economies. But the coronavirus crisis has dramatically impacted passenger numbers and given all this uncertainty, uptake is slowing.
In recent years, the electrification of public buses has been leading the way within heavy-duty vehicles. The EU's fleet of battery-electric buses started accelerating from 2018 and more than doubled to 3,500 in 2019, but growth remained limited to an extra 500 units to 4,000 in 2020 so far (of an estimated 190,000 in total). This shows Covid-19 is already impacting the transition and there is little doubt that this trend will continue in 2021.
The effects are significant in most European countries and the recovery will take several years, as ING concluded. At the same time, electric buses are becoming more financially attractive and governments see a 'green recovery' as ideal. In order to realize this ambition in the face of an unprecedented decline in passenger numbers and an uncertain future, further support for public transport companies by local authorities seems inevitable.
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