European cities slow to adopt electric buses

(EurActiv, 8 Nov 2018) Fully electric buses account for only 9% of urban bus sales in Europe, according to research by Transport and Environment (T&E), a green campaign group. High upfront costs are the biggest barrier to their deployment on a mass scale.

Electric buses can be twice as more expensive than diesel, making them unappealing for many European cities, especially the less wealthy which are usually the ones with the worst air quality, according to T&E.

But with the right incentives in place, they could become a first-choice option, T&E said in a new report published on Thursday (8 November).

“Air pollution is a silent killer in our cities,” says Anna Lisa Boni, secretary general of Eurocities, a network of European cities. “To protect the health of citizens, the power of procurement to deploy cleaner bus fleets is one of the tools city authorities are using, alongside promoting walking and cycling and investing in other forms of public transport,” she said.

T&E claims electric and diesel buses are already at parity in terms of total cost of ownership (TCO) when the health costs imposed by air and noise pollution are taken into account. “Add climate costs, and electric buses have today a lower TCO than diesel buses,” T&E says.

“Electric buses are the superior choice in every respect now. They have no tailpipe emissions, they’re quiet, comfortable and economical,” said Lucien Mathieu, transport and e-mobility analyst at T&E.

“If mayors and regions are serious about tackling the air quality and climate crises, the only rational decision is to buy electric buses from now on,” he said.

Last month, lawmakers in the European Parliament’s environment committee backed a mandate for zero-emission buses, saying they should make up 50% of sales by 2025 and 75% by 2030. The full Parliament will now vote on the motion next week.

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EurActiv, 8 Nov 2018: European cities slow to adopt electric buses