Chinese government’s strong commitment drives electric bus surge
China’s electric bus growth dwarfs electric bus growth everywhere else in the world. In 2016 alone, approximately 80,000 electric buses were added to fleets.
Transitioning to electric buses will help China meet its commitment to reduce its emissions intensity by 60-65% from 2005 levels by 2030 and help address growing concerns about rising air pollution. China has unique circumstances due to its overall economic growth and rapid development that help to make its electric bus growth so dramatic.
To get there, China adopted the “Ten Cities, One Thousand Vehicles” programme in 2009, which encouraged provincial governments to identify pilot programmes, form industrial alliances and provide policy and financial support. By giving incentives to form alliances through the programme, provincial governments encouraged stakeholders such as energy utilities and battery manufacturers and suppliers to work together.
Led by China’s national government, this programme addresses the electric mobility sector holistically, from manufacturing to end use. This means that through subsidies and local partnerships, public agencies will be able to develop improved support mechanisms, like standards and regulation. Partnerships also help businesses and solution providers optimize and improve business models, as is the case in the southern city of Shenzhen, where electric buses – primarily BYD electric buses – have been planned to make up all public bus transportation by the end of 2017. BYD started the Shenzhen pilot test in 2011. In six years, the giant city (population 11.9 million) managed to perform a complete switch.
Since 2011, AVIC Composite Corporation Ltd. (ACC), a joint venture between Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) and the Beijing government, has developed an electric bus body made of composite materials. The 12-m full-composite bus body weighs 2,000 kg with a mileage capacity of 417 km. According to ACC, the use of composite materials reduces weight by more than 40%, with characteristics such as good corrosion resistance and excellent fatigue performance. It also reduces vehicle assembly line investments by about 40%, and the plant area by about 30%. For its second-generation model, the company plans to reach an annual production worth CNY 300 million (US$ 45.4 million) by 2019.