The New York City Council has voted 44 to 1 to require all city-owned school buses to be battery electric by September 1, 2035. At the present time, the city operates 885 diesel-powered school buses. The action by the council was spurred by a new law signed by Governor Hochul last month that bans the sale of gasoline- and diesel-powered light-duty vehicles in the state of New York after the year 2035.
There is one caveat backed into the new electric school bus policy. It is “subject to the commercial availability and reliability of all electric school buses, and the technical and physical availability of related planned infrastructure.” Given the state’s interest in having a zero-emissions transportation sector, it is likely the required infrastructure will be built sometime during the next 14 years, says We Go Electric.
The city estimates that converting its school bus fleet to electric buses as well as the procurement of the required electric charging stations and electrical infrastructure will cost a total of $367.3 million by 2035. In addition to the bus mandate, the city also already decided that non-emergency fleet vehicles need to be electric by 2040. The new law also requires all parking facilities within the city’s 5 boroughs to include electric vehicle chargers for a minimum of 20% of available parking spaces.
Up In Smoke
We are dedicated advocates for the EV revolution here at CleanTechnica, but that doesn’t mean we need to bury our heads in the sand. There is disturbing news from Germany this week that concerns a number of fires involving electric buses in Düsseldorf, Hannover, and Stuttgart. The Stuttgart fire happened recently and all electric buses in that city have been removed from service until the cause to the blaze is known. The first bus to catch fire was being charged at the time.
The resulting fire destroyed 25 buses — 23 conventional units and 2 battery electrics — according to Algulf. Six people were injured in the fire in Stuttgart, two of them were taken to hospital with smoke inhalation. The losses from the fire are in the millions of dollars.
On June 5, a fire in a bus depot in Hannover destroyed five electric buses, two hybrid buses, a diesel bus, and a coach. E-buses in that city were subsequently withdrawn from service but are expected to be placed back in service on November 1.
Last April, a fire in a bus depot in Düsseldorf destroyed 38 buses and the depot building, causing millions more in damages. Experts from the Düsseldorf public prosecutor’s office concluded in June that the fire had an undetermined technical cause. The depot had only recently installed charging equipment for the electric buses.
Did you know about these fires? No? Neither did we. 12 battery fires in Chevy Bolts were front page news worldwide and will cost LG Chem nearly $2 billion. Over 70 buses have gone up in flames in Germany this year, yet there has been hardly any news reports about that. And why only in Germany and not other countries? There are so many more electric buses in China that Germany’s total would look insignificant.
Clearly, battery manufacturers have to come to grips with the battery fire issue as quickly as possible to avoid a major roadblock for the EV revolution. LFP batteries may not have the energy density of conventional lithium-ion batteries, but they do come with a far lower risk of fire (the BYD blade battery has reduced that risk to nearly zero.)