Shenzhen Completes Switch To Fully Electric Bus Fleet. Electric Taxis Are Next.

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Shenzhen, located just north of Hong Kong, is home to BYD, which happens to build electric vehicles, including buses. With a population approaching 12 million, Shenzhen has a lot of buses — 16,359 of them, to be precise — and as of this moment, every one of them is electric. Nicolas Zart filled us in last month on the city’s push to convert its bus fleet to electricity. Now that conversion is complete.

electric bus Shinzen China

Next, the city intends to make all of its more than 17,000 taxis electric. Today, 12,518 of them qualify for that distinction, according to EyeShinzen. “We will gradually replace the existing fuel powered cabs with electricity powered ones and complete the target by 2020, or even ahead of schedule,” says Zheng Jingyu, head of the public transport department of the city’s public transport administration bureau.

If 16,359 buses sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. As shared by our friend and contributor Tim Dixon on EV Obsession, that’s approximately 3 times as many buses as New York City has in its fleet (all buses), and nearly 8 times the total Los Angeles has (see chart on right).

Of course, none of those electric vehicles are worth anything if they can’t be recharged conveniently. Over the past few years, the city of Shenzhen has built 300 bus chargers and installed 8,000 streetlight poles that double as charging stations for electric cars. The bus chargers can replenish the battery in an electric bus in about two hours.

None of this happens without money. In 2017 alone, the city put up almost $500 million to promote the adoption of electric buses and installation of charging infrastructure.

The reason for the push is twofold. First, Shenzhen, like many Chinese cities, suffers from crippling air pollution. Second, electric buses are much cheaper to operate than their diesel-powered cousins. “The wide use of electric buses and cabs plays a significant role in improving air quality and constructing a beautiful Shenzhen,” said Lou Heru, vice head of the city’s transport commission. Third, Shenzhen is home to BYD.

The all-electric bus fleet is expected to save the equivalent of 345,000 tons of diesel fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 1.35 million tons. Electricity costs about one third what diesel fuel costs in the area. The electric taxis are expected to save another 116,000 tons of diesel. There is a third benefit that flows from using electric buses and taxis as well — a much quieter city. Quality of life issues may not have a specific price tag, but not listening to the roar of diesel engines all day every day has to be a plus on anyone’s list.

16,359 buses are a lot of buses. To get an idea what that number looks like, check out this video of thousands of electric buses being delivered from the BYD factory to the city of Shenzhen (and note that it’s not all the buses — it’s from a 2015 delivery).

And here’s one from BYD that captures some of the value of electric buses (featuring a certain CleanTechnica director):

Related: China 100% Electric Bus Sales “Just” 89,546 In 2017

China Electric Bus Sales
December 36,191
November 18,113
October 6,568
September 8,169
August 5,772
July 5,470
June 6,540
May 1,623
April 452
March 617
February 0
January 31
Total 89,546

Year China Electric Bus Sales
2011 1136
2012 1904
2013 1672
2014 12,760
2015 94,260
2016 115,700
2017 89,546
TOTAL 316,978

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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