Cities are buying more electric buses, but an EU deadline is needed

(Transport and Environment, 18 Jul 2022) Bus-makers will only keep pace with the rising demand if regulators set a phase-out date for fossil-fuel vehicle sales in 2027.

Cities are increasingly buying electric buses. Almost one in four newly-registered urban buses in 2021 was zero emission, according to new data. The last three years have recorded steady growth, with zero-emission buses accounting for 23% of buses registered in 2021, building on 16% in 2020, and 12% in 2019. 

All very positive news. But how could we ensure that all new urban buses are zero emission as soon as possible? The current policy has dated quickly (the Clean Vehicles Directive will only bring zero emission bus sales above 30% after 2025), overtaken by the European Green Deal – and the yawning gap opening up between zero-emission bus demand and current targets (see infographic).

Cities are ditching fossil fuels fast – typically starting with their own public transport fleets – and they want more zero-emission buses ASAP. Some bus-makers are stepping up, with Daimler and MAN, for example, pledging that all their new urban buses will be zero emission by 2030.

If demand continues along its current growth path, European cities will want 100% of new urban buses to be zero emissions by 2026. The missing ingredient is an EU law that matches demand through a requirement on manufacturers to only supply zero emission buses. 

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Transport and Environment, 18 Jul 2022: Cities are buying more electric buses, but an EU deadline is needed