Impact of e-bus in urban areas

How different is implementing an e-bus fleet in a city compared to a diesel bus fleet? It raises a lot of questions for municipalities and operators how to deal with this change. Questions the World Resources Institute (WRI) is trying to answer. Sebastian Castellanos, Associate Energy and Climate at the WRI, shared his conclusions at yet another successful edition of Busworld Turkey.

The WRI has done extensive research in 26 case-study's of cities around the world. Most interesting and surprising is the finding that the research shows that the most procurement models cities around the world are using to buy buses for public transport are not really suitable for electric bus implementation. Castellanos: “A lot of cities have not grabbed yet the concept of Total Cost of Ownership, TCO, and they separate completely the capital expenses from the operational expenses. In the 26 case-study's we expected to understand how exactly the cities were implementing the electric bus and how much they were paying for this. We came up with four conclusions.”

“The first is that there are new stakeholders like utility companies coming to the transport sector. An example of this is Foothills in the USA where this electricity provider was giving very big incentives in terms of price-stability. This is an advantage over diesel because diesel is subject to the oil-prices at the world-market. Also utility companies can lower the cost of electricity when reached a certain point in the market and thus influence the TCO. Furthermore in this case the city was offering additional incentives like a no-cost lease for the land to the utility company for implementing charging infrastructure.”

“Secondly we see that cities are moving away from purchasing buses and are starting into leasing the buses. When it is the role for a city to provide services it makes no sense to purchase buses rather to procure a service. A good example is China where cities are leasing the assets instead of owning them and paying only for the amount of kilometres they drive. This is an interesting model because it transfers the risk of the technology, especially the battery, away from the city of the manufacturers. It reduces the costs.”

“Also in China we saw different charging techniques, like overnight depot charging but in Beijing they are also swapping the batteries which means that they in time can implement smaller batteries but change them more contiguously. Most of these cases are receiving a lot of support of the public sector. Bogotá in Columbia (South-America) put a lot of afford in hybrid buses and has with over 500 hybrid buses the largest hybrid busfleet in South-America. This could be achieved by a 40 million dollar loan from the Clean Technology Fund. Also the tax-liability from the purchasing companies was reduced with 100% of the cost of the buses. A really interesting tax-incentives.”

For him and the WRI the questions the public authorities should answer is which role they need to play in supporting the public sector operators in overcoming the technology risk and fear of change to e-buses. Should they introduce specific requirements for low-emission fleets, or should they only introduce incentives for the market to respond? Is public funding the only way for cities, to support the incremental cost of low- and -zero emission buses including infrastructure? Should cities introduce changes in the current contractual model to support the adoption of electric buses?

Sebastian Castellanos'presentation can be downloaded below

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