Electric buses are a fun topic. They offer smoother, quieter, cleaner transport that leaves passengers, drivers, and everyone nearby feeling better. We get excited about electric bus orders that for 4 buses, and we get really excited about orders for a couple of dozen electric buses. Hundreds? Come on, don’t be crazy! But enter into China and there’s a vast difference regarding what’s “possible” and what’s happening. We already published one story on this news, but this EV Obsession piece from Tim Dixon offers more context regarding one of the biggest electric mobility stories of the past year (or decade), so we had to share. Enjoy! Also, Tim’s first baby is on the way, so wish him some good wishes during this momentous month. —Zach Shahan
Shenzhen confirms completion of transition to 100% electric buses
On December 27, the Shenzhen municipal transport commission announced it had completed the transition of its bus fleet to 100% electric buses. (Source: Han Ximin on EyeShenzhen)
The announcement that it had 16,359 electric buses will not come as a surprise to CleanTechnica readers, as it was reported earlier in 2017 that the city would reach this target ahead of schedule. Nonetheless, it’s a shocking achievement. For context, imagine the bus fleets of NYC, Los Angeles County, New Jersey Transit, suburban Chicago, and Toronto all went electric — that still wouldn’t be as many buses as Shenzhen electrified.
The mega-city of Shenzhen is home to over 12 million people and it is viewed as a Silicon Valley of China, hosting many big internet companies, having a thriving startup scene, and hosting the headquarters of a electric vehicle manufacture you know well — BYD.
This bus transition has been years in the making because in 2009 Shenzhen was chosen to be one of thirteen cities to be in a pilot program of new energy vehicles.
Shenzhen has been consistently pushing for electrification of its bus and taxi fleet. In 2017, Shenzhen provided subsidies for electric buses and charging facilities totalling 3.3 billion RMB ($490 million).
On the 9th of December, Bloomberg reported on the previous reports that Shenzhen would electrify its bus fleet by comparing Shenzhen’s 16,359 electric buses with American bus fleets, it came to this startling finding that Shenzhen has more electric buses than the 5 largest North American bus fleets combined. Although this might not shock those looking at America’s infrastructure priorities and China’s size and government priorities, that’s still a staggering difference in scale.
With a population of over 12 million, Shenzhen is also bigger than many countries.
Massive fleet means massive charging infrastructure
The investment into electric buses had to be paired with adequate infrastructure. Shenzhen has 510 bus charging stations that have a combined 8,000 charging points, so it can charge just under half the fleet at once.
At the Qinghu Bus Terminal, with more than 30 charging poles, the assistant manager gave a insight into its capacity:
“A bus can be fully charged within two hours and the charging poles can serve 300 buses a day,” said Guan Anguang, assistant manager of the terminal.
Shenzhen electric taxi fleet
Along with other large Chinese cities, Shenzhen is not just making its public transport electric — it is making the taxi fleet electric.
Shenzhen has 12,518 taxis in operation and it was announced that 62.5% of them are pure electric. The city is pushing towards a 100% electric taxi fleet by 2020, but it again expects to meet that target ahead of schedule. As with buses, locally headquartered BYD is a prime beneficiary of the cleantech shift — and its electric offerings have helped to enable it.
It was reported that electric buses can save 72.9% more energy than the current diesel buses, which means that the Shenzhen bus fleet will save an estimated 345,000 tons of fuel per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1.35 million tons per year. The electric taxi fleet will save an estimated 116,000 tons of fuel per year and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 453,913 tons per year.
China’s electric bus market is huge. The government over many years has provided a clear path to the future and now we are seeing the results. Just read my previous article rounding up 2017 electric bus news in China and compare it to developments in America and Europe. This is what leadership looks like.
It should also be remembered that while Shenzhen’s electric bus fleet is huge, it was only part of a Chinese-wide effort to electrify buses. In 2016, 115,700 electric buses were sold in China. While Shenzhen is the first big city to get international attention, in 2018–2020, we are going to be seeing many other cities (in China) follow Shenzhen’s lead.
→ Related: China, USA, & Europe Electric Car Sales
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