Electric buses help solve road congestion, local pollution killing hundreds of thousands and global warming potentially killing all of us. True, where free markets reign as in the United Kingdom beyond London, bus usage is plummeting in the face of disfunctional schedules and punitive prices. However, in London, 20% of buses will be hybrid in 2016 thanks to the beady eye of Transport for London. From Hamburg to Paris, city authorities are forcing bus operators to go pollution-free at point of use by a set date and that will almost always mean pure-electric battery buses. In fact, the really huge potential and some of the most robust government and city directives are seen in East Asia. China and India taken together have nearly three million belching large buses to replace. In addition, China will soon have one million school "midibuses" to make clean. Those hybrid buses the Londoners acclaim would not even receive support in China because the government now backs only plug-in hybrids with considerable pure electric range and pure electric buses.
Behind this frenzy of activity lies a rethinking of every part of a bus because weight, space and cost become much more critical as we head towards hundreds of thousands of electric buses of all sizes. Many Chinese manufacturers have taken orders at the thousand level for pure electric large buses in the last year and even double deckers and articulated pure-electric buses are now being ordered. The traction motors are fairly evenly split between those that are wholly or substantially asynchronous (AC induction) and synchronous ones. Integration into bus wheels or transmission is happening with all options and switched reluctance motors have a toehold so there is a lot of change here. That is also true of the increasingly integrated motor controls using more and radically new components and assembly technology. The end game may be in-wheel motors and "structural electronics" as bodywork. Save the rest for passengers. Goodbye "chassis" makers. For more see the new IDTechEx reports, Electric Buses 2015-2025, Electric Motors for Hybrid and Pure Electric Vehicles 2015-2025: Land, Water, Air and Structural Electronics 2015-2025.
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