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Electric Vehicles Research
Posted on January 29, 2015 by  & 

Electric buses: Here comes China

In the new report, "Electric Buses 2015-2025", analysts IDTechEx examine how Chinese hybrid buses are in some respects more advanced as the Government only supports plug-in versions with long pure electric range.
Chinese pure electric buses are often technically superior. Consider 250 km range and in-wheel motors (BYD K9) and 333 km range (CSR Times) for the best-selling 12 meter buses ie ones at best price/ performance compromise in the view of purchasers. It was the Chinese that first replaced lithium-ion batteries with the more reliable, longer-lived supercapacitors in hybrid buses selling in large numbers. The supercapacitors also confer faster charging for such things as severe regenerative braking, fast acceleration and safety. At higher bus prices, bus manufacturers outside China have pioneered many other technical advances such as SiC or GaN inverters and faster inductive charging.
Over the last three years, only one bus powertrain has seen a serious drop in price based on a drop in cost, partly due to sales volumes increasing much more than tenfold. It is the pure electric bus from China where IDTechEx reports the archetypal 12 meter, 18 tonne, 1kWh/km bus selling at about $50,000 less. Given that the Chinese are setting up factories from Brazil to Europe to make these buses in thousands, this is very significant. They have the cost base now. They are poised to pounce.
True, there have been hiccups. Some of the Chinese buses need the batteries changing in only two years at huge expense but certainly not all of them. Much bus technology is pioneered in Japan and the West and the IDTechEx roadmap 2015-2025 does not feature the Chinese very strongly. It includes supercabatteries in the form of lithium-ion capacitors, energy harvesting shock absorbers, SiC and GaN inverters, lithium-metal batteries, flexible photovoltaics, much faster inductive charging, continuous pick-up, supercapacitor bodywork and other structural electronics. For these, the innovation is fairly evenly spread across the world. However, with gantry charging at bus stops, buses with pure electric powertrains based solely on supercapacitors, battery swapping and, yes, those in-wheel motors, the Chinese are up with the best of them.

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Posted on: January 29, 2015

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