Published on March 12th, 2016 | by Guest Contributor


Electric Bus Batteries Could Soon Overtake Consumer Electronic Batteries

March 12th, 2016 by  

Originally published on Sustainnovate.
By Henry Lindon

Report: EV Buses Could Be “Game Changer” For Battery Market By Mid-2020s

A new report from the research firm IDTechEx argues that the electric bus market’s rapid growth could function as a “game changer” for the global battery market over the coming years.

Owing to the relatively large size of batteries used in electric buses — from around 75 kilowatt-hours (kWh) up to more than 300 kWh — fast growth could lead to the electric bus battery market surging to $30 billion by 2026, according to the report. And, perhaps more interestingly, to it surpassing the consumer electronics battery market as soon as 2019.

“We expect that this sector will alter the entire value chain for battery production from material suppliers, battery manufacturers through to original equipment manufacturers,” stated an IDTechEx rep in a recent press release.

As it currently stands, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries — the most common type of battery produced in China — comprise more than 80% of the market, a marked difference from the consumer electric car market, or the the consumer electronics market. The report notes that this may change somewhat over the coming years as non-LFP battery technology improves — becoming safer, and with higher energy storage density. Much depends, however, on potential Chinese government intervention in the market.

Companies profiled in the report include: Yutong, BYD, Ankai, King Long, CSR Times Electric Vehicle Co., Dongfeng Motor Corporation, Sunwin Bus Corporation, Zhongtong , Hengtong, Proterra, Solaris, and Hybricon Bus System.

More on the report can be found here.

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  • Matt

    Feel like missing one leg of the tripod. Consumer Electronics, EV buses, EV cars, might throw a 4th in there all the batteries in non-EV cars (if you can get cost down).
    Even if this is a China market only report (which it might be), there are a massive number of EV cars and mopeds in China.

    • Calamity_Jean

      “…all the batteries in non-EV cars….”

      Several months ago I read somewhere that if for some reason EV cars stopped selling completely that the Gigafactory could survive for years on making starter batteries for ICV cars.

  • Radical Ignorant

    Would be nice to see one day some article on Cleantech about big picture of electric busses at the moment. I see often details that such and such city bought such and such numbers of them but I’m missing the big picture. Just found that BYD is selling 6000 of them per year. That is a lot. And how other companies are doing? What is the dynamic of change? What those numbers means in comparison to world diesel buses production? When we can expect that last standard diesel bus will turn off it’s engine forever?

    • JamesWimberley

      CT isn’t equipped to do primary research. The source here is a consultancy. They run in herds, so it is likely that other teams are starting to look at the bus transition seriously. They have realised that though it’s a small market in vehicle numbers, the vehicle size decuples the impact in batteries. For the reasons given in the comments, the transition is likely to happen faster as well.

    • neroden

      One of the problems is that most of the electric bus sales are in China, which is running >100,000 battery-electric city buses already. If you don’t read Chinese it’s very hard to keep track of the market situation — the articles about it are rarely translated. You’d need someone who reads Chinese scanning the Chinese newspapers daily to keep on top of it.

    • Good ideas. It’s hard to get numbers from China, where most electric buses are running, but will see what we can do.

      • Radical Ignorant

        Don’t have the source, but seen some introductory/big picture article somewhere, and there is some info on wiki. And it would be also nice to see article about western market. Are those (EBs) in prototype phase like 1 per 10000 in use? Are they after initial tests by operators and are starting slowly going to replace diesels/hybrids like Tesla is forcing change in premium car market? Is there more hybrid buses and it’s not yet time for pure EBs? Recall such impression from Volvo numbers. This article, and others like that, are just few numbers and without context it’s pretty hard to guess what those numbers really means. One thing seems to be sure – in China switch to electric buses is decided and on full scale. But in western world?

        • Bob_Wallace

          ​I suspect cities are going to find themselves under a lot of pressure to move to EBs if the lifetime (avg 12 years) cost is roughly the same as for diesels. People are going to push for cleaner air and less noise. City leaders will have a hard time arguing against EBs.

          People and groups concerned about climate change are likely to use the pollution and noise issues to push for EBs. ​

  • Philip W

    China already has over 100k electric buses on the road. Let’s assume an average battery capacity of 100kWh (I don’t know how many have small fast charging batteries and how many have big batteries that last the whole day).
    That would be 10GWh already driving around in China RIGHT NOW.

    So yeah, buses have a huge part in scaling battery production up.

    • Kraylin

      Over 100,000 electric buses? That’s great. Only a matter of time before things start changing more rapidly in North America as well, hopefully!

    • Steven F

      Let see the average school bus in the US uses 1,700 gallons of fuel. So 100,000 buses negate the need for 170,000,000 gallon or about 4 million barrels of fuel a year. That is a lot of demand destruction. That might explain the low cost of oil right now.

      • Mike Gitarev

        It’s only 11 thousand barrels per day from total 92 millions b/d world production.

        • Steven F

          Yes but I was only using fuel numbers for US school buses. They are only used 2 times a day 5 days a week. A city bus runs all day and is in use 7 day a week. China is probably going to have different averages then US averages. Then you have diesel generator use in Pacific islands, Middle East, and small remote places. Wind and solar are now also cutting into those oil markets.

          So EV busse + EV car + Solar + wind = ? I doubt anyone ha an accurate number. Is it no surprie that coal and oil prices are crahing at the same time?

          • Bob_Wallace

            I really think what is happening with coal and oil are due to two separate factors.

            Coal is being killed mostly by natural gas in the US. To a combination of supercritical coal plants which use less coal along with wind and solar in Germany and China. In China add in more hydro and nuclear. In Australia it’s large solar.

            Oil prices have collapsed due to a small drop in demand but mostly to increases in supply. Canadian oil and US oil have added to the mix. Other oil producing countries are increasing production. The demand drop we’ve seen for coal is likely due to the recession from which the world is only now emerging.

            Renewables and EVs have, IMO, played only a very small role to date. Their impacts will become more important over the next ten years.

          • Mike Gitarev

            You are absolutely right about “more EV will lead to much less oil consumption”.
            All I’m saying is that “4 million barrels of fuel a year” is not “a lot of demand destruction”, it’s nothing.
            It’s 4 out of 34000.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Oil production is, or just recently was, the highest it has ever been, so demand destruction hasn’t kicked in yet, but it is coming. There is just no where near enough new production coming on line to make up for depletion in current oil fields. That means at some point oil prices will have to rise, and then rather than saying, let’s keep the diesel buses running for a couple more years before we decide to go electric, people will be losing money every month they don’t have electric buses and they will be kicking themselves for not putting an order in earlier.

        But I guess you are right that it could explain the current low cost of oil. Big oil producers know they only have one more ramp up in oil price to go before their business model is destroyed and so they are not holding back on production, which they might if demand destruction due to electric vehicles wasn’t right on the horizon. They know oil might not be worth much of anything in the medium term.

        • neroden

          A former Saudi Oil Minister — Sheikh Zaki Yamani — is famously on record as saying “the stone age did not end for lack of stones, and the oil age will not end for lack of oil” — he expects oil to become obsolete and worthless in the near future.

          So I think *the biggest* oil producer is selling the stuff as fast as they can because they know it’s their last chance.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Yep, the last chance to make a big profit. Oil use won’t disappear over just a few years, but oil prices will fall so low a drunk snake would be able to jump over them. As a low cost producer, Saudi Arabia will still sell oil, but they won’t make much money from it. The oil export industry will go the way the coal export industry has.

      • neroden

        I just sat down and calculated this. Buses are a pretty small portion of the demand destruction.

        The really huge demand destruction kicks in around 2018 when the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 are on sale; I figure they replace the entire top half of the car market very quickly.

        Replacing half of gas vehicles with electric vehicles would eliminate *one quarter* of all oil usage.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I think you’re over predicting. Tesla is probably not going to be producing 500,000 EVs by 2018. GM and Tesla together probably won’t.

          We’re at one million electric cars now. By 2020 we may see three/four million? EVs on the world’s highways. That would be less than 5% of the world’s one billion vehicles.

          When EVs hit 10% and more efficient ICEVs have flushed out the most inefficient I think we’ll see oil start to suffer.

          • Steven F

            “Of course efficiency and conservation are great, which is why I have a superinsulated house with an Energy Recovery Ventilator and a heat pump. (Do you? You should.)”

            Maybe, Maybe not. My earlier comment was just for school bues. City buses would probably consume more fuel per day. EV buses + cars are probably going to have a greater effect than most expect. Also solar and wind are killing diesel generator use in small rural grids in Africa, the Middle East, and pacific islands.

            We are all guessing on fuel use or are resorting to using subgroup averages which may or may not be correct. Also there are a lot of errors and guesses in oil consumption statistics. In some cases countries don’t report exports so the reported exports are derived from the number of ships that leave export terminals with the assumption that they are all full. so the size the glut and it’s growth or decline rate are largely guesses.

            So adding all that up it i possible that Neroden’s prediction of demand destruction starting in 2018, may have already started and we simply don’t realize it.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Not super insulated but 2×6 framing, dual pane windows with argon gas and stuff like that. I heat with wood and don’t need AC. In fact, we probably run a fan less than 40 hours a year.

            As for demand destruction the number of cars manufactured globally but that’ somewhat offset by increasing efficiency. I doubt that EVs and EBs have caused the meter to twitch.

            1.2 billion cars and light trucks on the world’s roads. One million plug ins. If it jumps to 4 million by 2018 that’s a 0.3% drop in demand.

        • Ronald Brakels

          A bit of good news is that the first electric vehicles will have a disproportionate effect on cutting oil use. Because of their lower running costs they they will be used more. A taxi company will run its electric taxis almost continuously and save its internal combustion engine ones for peak periods. A bus company will run its first electric buses from early in the morning till late at night. A service company will run their electric vehicles in preference to their gasoline ones. (And most workers are likely to prefer to drive the electric ones anyway.)

          And it works for private cars too. People will do the math and those who drive more will be more likely to purchase a cheaper to run electric car.

  • JamesWimberley

    Eye-balling the chart, they expect demand for bus batteries to double in 10 years, That’s a CAGR of only 8%. (The link doesn’t give one and the full report is paywalled). That seems low for a truly disruptive technology on the cusp of taking over. Unlike electric cars, electric buses (a) meet typical urban performance requirements completely (range, top speed, acceleration, plus far superior ride and noise), (b) are competitive with ICEV rivals on a lifetime cost basis. With the steep learning curve for batteries, they will be significantly cheaper in two years.

    So going for them is a cost-free green cred move for city mayors. Boris Johnson is an exceptionally intelligent, ambitions and unscrupulous example of the type, but his political views are mainstream right-of-centre. Many others in similar corner offices in city halls can and will make the same calculation. The ICEV urban bus will have a negligible market share by 2020.

    • Bob_Wallace

      As the price of batteries decrease and awareness of battery powered buses as cheap as (getting cheaper than) diesel powered buses I suspect we’ll see lots of pressure on municipal governments to move to EBs (I’m creating a new abbreviation) based on air pollution.

      By 2020? That seems too soon to me. Right now we have a few municipalities evaluating a small number of EBs. The next step will be for some of those governments announcing that going forward they are only purchasing EBs. That’s probably 2020. Then over the next five years or so we’ll see other governments getting on board.

      • neroden

        I don’t know why the US municipalities are so conservative. There are several small municipalities which have already declared that they intend to go 100% electric.

        China has pretty much ordered all municipalities to go 100% electric — they’re providing national subsidies for buying electric buses and no subsidies for buying new fuel buses now, which is a huge incentive. If the US federal government did the same thing all US municipalities would go electric instantly.

        • Bob_Wallace

          I wonder if purchasing Chinese buses rather than ‘made in America’ buses might be part of the problem.

          What we really need (IMHO) in the US is for one reasonably large city to go 100% EB. I’ve suggested this before, BYD, Proterra, or another EB manufacture should make an American city a deal they couldn’t refuse.

          Furnish them with EBs, install the charging systems, train the staff and guarantee the price to the city to be less than what the diesel buses would have cost to own and operate. Possibly let them hang on to their ICE buses ‘just in case’.

          Make the data public on an ongoing basis. Send quarterly reports to every city government.

          It doesn’t matter if all Chinese cities go 100% EB. American cities will largely ignore that. We are largely incapable of learning from the experience of other countries. Sad, but it’s something we need to recognize and work around.

          • I do not expect Chicago to ever purchase an ICE bus again. 18 months or so ago they purchased 2 test battery buses. Recently they announced their next bus purchase of 20-30 electric buses. The bulk of the current hybrid and standard ICE fleet will need replacement a couple years after that.

            And that is with our own center-right neo-liberal Mayor Emanuel.

          • neroden

            Good news about Chicago. I hope you’re right. It just makes financial sense to switch to battery-electric buses for everything with a “city” duty cycle.

        • JamesWimberley

          Buses are invisible to American elites because apart from school kids, only the brown-skinned and the poor use them.

          • That’s a “rural myth”. In solidly urban core cities even the upper middle class can be found riding buses. Of course, as real Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) gains popularity that number will increase greatly. Amazing what dedicated lanes can do for transit.

          • neroden

            Nope, that doesn’t explain the conservatism of the munisipal agencies. If the buses were actually ignored by the elites, the agencies would have a free hand to be as progressive as they wanted to.

            One of the reasons buses are disliked is for their unpleasant, bumpy ride and smelly exhaust — hopefully electric buses will help with that.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I really dislike the rough ride of buses. Putting heavy battery packs under the floor should help with that. Also the buses could be programmed to prevent jackrabbit starts by inconsiderate drivers.

          • Brooks Bridges

            I rode an old bus to work for years 45 minutes one way – bumpy and unpleasant. A few months before I left, they bought a brand new ICE bus that rode like a plush limo. Quiet, smooth, very pleasant. That was 14 years ago.

        • Calamity_Jean

          “If the US federal government did the same thing….”

          For that to happen we’d need to wrestle control of Congress away from the Republican party.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Wrestling opportunity scheduled for November 8. Time to start working on getting out the vote.

      • JamesWimberley

        Outside China, Amsterdam has announced a “no new ICEBs” policy. London is switching its whole small single-decker fleet – the far more numerous double-deckers are waiting for a trial due to start later this year. Watch for Paris – there is now a French-made contender. BYD are opening a factory in Brazil, so the rivalry between Rio and Sao Paulo may come into play.

        • I don’t expect Chicago to ever purchase an ICE bus again. Been testing two battery buses last 18 months, Next purchase is for 20-30 Electrics. A couple years after them the bulk of the fleet is up for renewal. The hand-writing is on the wall.

      • Ronald Brakels

        Electric bus production is capacity constrained at the moment. But China is filling up with electric buses. And makers of Chinese electric buses aren’t going to want to stop making them. At some point, which may be soon, BYD is going to say, “Domestic sales are slacking, we’ve taken care to get our buses up to export standard, trails in foreign cities have shown we can meet or beat diesel buses on all relevant performance measures, and this year’s decrease in battery prices mean we can sell at a price point where they clearly beat diesel buses with in developed countries with their low costs of capital. It is now time for use to destroy the world’s inner city and suburban diesel bus industry. Mwah-Ha-hahaha-haa!”

        So BYD or other foreign electric bus companies don’t need to make any special deals in the US. Because they know Americans will buy their beautiful vehicles with their almighty dollar as they are going to compete on price. American electric bus companies might want to start making special deals with American cities and gluing bald eagles and apple pies to their buses.

  • Graphite Gus

    Interesting that they say buses batteries will surpass consumer electronic batteries, but don’t mention cars.
    Also, how do buses charge?
    There must be a way to change batteries.
    Can that be used in long haul trucks?

    • Steven F

      “how do buses charge? ”
      One common way is to locate a special outlet above a bus parking spot or bus stop. When the bus stops a mechanical arm rises and plug in.

      “There must be a way to change batteries.

      Can that be used in long haul trucks?”
      Trucks can use overhead pantograph wires to get power while they drive. This would allow the truck to drive without batteries for very long distances. However such trucks will be equipped with a battery to allow for trips where pantograph wires don’t go. The battery would recharge through the pantograph wires while the truck is on the highway

      Other possible choices are inductive charging, conventional high current power cables that a person manually plugs into, or a robotic battery swap stations.

      • Foersom

        > a mechanical arm rises and plug in.

        It is the opposite direction. “When a bus arrives at the charging stop, wireless communication will be established between bus and charger and the pantograph will come down automatically.”

      • Jenny Sommer
        • Philip W

          As long as overhead lines are already built I’m pretty sure that O-Buses are way cheaper. They don’t need an expensive battery after all.
          If overhead lines have to be built from scratch, I’m not so sure anymore…
          But even if it was cheaper, I’d still don’t like them. They are ugly and destroy the cityscape. I’ve seen them in Salzburg.

          O-Buses are also very inflexible and cannot drive when there are no overhead lines. So something like rail replacement service, school buses and so on are not really possible.

          • Calamity_Jean

            Overhead wires for trolley buses are a pain in the you-know-what to install. Existing poles holding streetlights are almost always not strong enough to support the trolley wire, so they have to be taken out and replaced. If intersections have traffic signals on overhead arms, the arms may need to be raised or shortened to avoid interfering with the trolley. I can pretty much guarantee you that if overhead trolley wires aren’t already in place, a battery-powered bus will be cheaper than a trolley bus.

            Edited to add: I don’t think trolley buses have regenerative braking, so battery buses might use less power also.

  • JamesWimberley

    We only hear of BYD and Proterra because most of the Chinese electric bus manufacturers are entirely domestic. But they still affect the global market considerably, by contributing to the overall scale of demand, moving the technology forward, and setting BYD’s Chinese prices.

    Who supplies batteries to the Chinese domestics? BYD makes its own.

    • Ronald Brakels

      Hard to say. One company makes EV batteries and claims to be big, but as far as I can tell only produces about 4 megawatt-hours of batteries a year. Enough for about 170 Leaf sized battery packs if all their production was for EVs, which it’s not. It’s almost as if they are trying to create some sort of false impression for some strange reason. I would investigate further, but I have to go and check my Chinese stocks as I haven’t looked at them for over a year.

      • neroden

        I’d love to have more details on this stuff but I don’t read Chinese. There seem to be at least 5 domestic-only Chinese electric bus manufacturers; this is a big deal. I don’t know where they get their batteries. Are they all in-house?

        • Ronald Brakels

          Well, the batteries aren’t imported, that’s all I’m certain of.

          Also, what the hell happened to my Chinese shares! What am I going to use to bribe the Central Committee with now?

          Oh wait, it’s okay. I found some sandwiches.

        • We will try to dig in. Have been wondering the same.

    • Yes, I was pretty shocked to find out about BYD’s big competitors a few months ago. I think BYD isn’t even #1 in China. But the others are almost totally off our radar.

  • Jamset

    I wonder if the Chinese have developed a standard 300kW plug for buses.

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    • Foersom

      ABB: “offering charging power of 150 kW, 300 kW or 450 kW”

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