You are definitely living under a rock if you haven’t heard that many cities in China are suffering from record-breaking pollution levels. If you’re a hardcore regular of CleanTechnica, you also know that electric buses have been selling like hotcakes in China. The EV-loving city Shenzhen is taking it one step further. In Shenzhen, electric buses will make up all public bus transportation by the end of this year, primarily BYD electric buses.
Shenzhen Bus Fleet to Go Electric by End of 2017
There’s no denying that switching an entire public transportation bus fleet to electricity can drastically curb pollutants and respiratory complications. The city of Shenzhen sees the light, coming to the conclusion that human lives matter more than foreign oil company profits.
One more thing to note: Shenzhen has been working toward this goal for a while. It already has 14,000 electric buses on the street, with only has a few hundred diesel-powered buses left to replace. They will be decommissioned over the last two months of the year. BYD is in charge of providing 80% of the electric buses for the city. It is also heavily vested in electric vehicles (EV), leads the world-leading Chinese EV market, and has introduced its electric bus all over the world, including in Long Beach, California, where we were privileged enough to take its maiden ride.
BYD started the Shenzhen pilot test in 2011. In six years, the giant city (population 11.9 million) managed to implement a complete switch. So, what is taking us so long in the West?
A Global Call to Switch to Electricity
China isn’t the only country ditching diesel and CNG. France and Great Britain have vowed to end sales of gasoline and diesel cars by 2040. Although, that is still a very long time away. Norway set the target even closer at 2025. These countries are eager to reclaim a cleaner urban environment and are seen as global leaders. But have you heard of any other major cities switching 100% to electric buses in the next few years?
Numbers speak for themselves. China has to clean up its air pollution situation. The country is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Vehicles sold in China emitted 44.7 million tonnes of pollutants in 2016, according to the World Health Organization. The Ministry of Environmental Protection says going electric is the only feasible and practical solution.
To the latest rash of naysayers claiming that EVs pollute more than internal combustion engines, it is far easier to curb pollution at power stations than to do it on every single car exhaust pipe. Further, even today, electric vehicles are cleaner.
BYD & Shenzhen on the Electric Bus Lane
BYD, which stands for “build your dreams,” is indeed building its dream — after all, it produces 80% of this giant city’s electric buses. The company is also headquartered in the city (as you might have guessed … or known) and has been producing batteries since 1995. It started manufacturing “new energy vehicles” (NEVs) in 2003. Beijing considers hybrids, plug-in hybrids (PHEV), and pure EVs as NEVs.
BYD’s first electric bus started in 2011 and used a lot of space for its batteries, encumbering on its passenger capacity. But battery energy density and the overall technology has matured enough to allow electric buses to carry the load of a conventional diesel bus while making them more affordable to operate over their lifespan — much more affordable, according to some spreadsheets CleanTechnica has seen.
What really helped both BYD and the city of Shenzhen is when local authorities issued a list of policies to push for the development of NEVs — “Made In China 2025.” The plan boosted the country’s EV manufacturing output, with EVs singled out as one of 10 key sectors the government would help.
Lessons Learned from the BYD & Shenzhen Electric Bus Switch
One thing is for certain about China — it can quickly implement projects and pilot programs efficiently. This is something the West could only dream to achieve in such a short amount of time. While we are hopelessly lost in politics and endless debates that more often go nowhere, China has proven yet again it can get things done quickly, leaving us to our own unproductive infighting.
BYD (and some others) switching the city of Shenzhen’s bus fleet to electricity is something we would like to see happening everywhere — sooner than later, but preferably sooner.