Alternative charging options drive down battery costs for ebuses


On-the-move charging technology for electric buses, including solar bodywork, is helping drive down the contribution of battery costs to electric vehicle prices and will hasten parity with diesel public transport, according to U.K. research company IDTechEx.

The Cambridge-based business intelligence service has predicted ebuses will rival diesel alternatives on price by around 2030, thanks to advances in non-battery charging options including integral PV; intermittent overhead rails and coils; bus stop top-up charging; and 10-second supercapacitor charging.

IDTechEx, which published the Energy Storage for Electric Buses and Trucks 2019-2029 report, said the race to price parity is being helped by the rising cost diesel drivetrains are incurring to treat emissions and also predicted alternative charging methods mean battery costs may make up only 6% of overall ebus costs by 2029.

Researchers at IDTechEx, surveying the global market, pointed to the withdrawal of subsidies in China as abruptly killing demand in the world’s biggest ebus marketplace but said there is the potential for a fresh surge of orders if solar power reaches grid parity in the nation – something Beijing wants to achieve by the start of 2021.

India’s ebus promise

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With ebus orders rising outside China, IDTechEx highlighted the prominent role likely to be played by India, where the government wants to phase out all 1.6 million registered diesel buses over air quality concerns. With lengthy elections under way in India at present, the government has previously outlined plans to order its first 10,000 ebuses and the state of Uttarakhand has 500 on order, making India responsible for around a quarter of non-Chinese orders.

Elsewhere, IDTechEx reports Kazakhstan has 700 ebuses on order and Azerbaijan 500. Researchers say orders have recently been placed for 263 vehicles for U.K. cities, with London waiting on 68 electric double-deckers, as part of mayor Sadiq Khan’s air quality improvement ambition. With significant orders also reported for the cities of Warsaw, Helsingborg, for Brussels airport and for the Qbuzz company in the Netherlands, Europe is also taking up low carbon transport options in a market dominated by Chinese manufacturer BYD but in which Indian producer Tata Motors is also active.

IDTechEx also predicted small electric cars will reach parity with conventional alternatives as early as 2023 and stated evidence from Norway suggested supply of electric models by popular brands is struggling to keep up with demand. According to the research company, the Kia eNiro has a one-year waiting list, Volkswagen’s electric Passat GTE and Golf GTE models have been closed to new orders and the much-hyped Tesla 3 is still keeping customers waiting.

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