Electric bus

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A battery electric Proterra BE35 bus operated by San Joaquin RTD, shown beside its fixed charging station.
A battery electric in Hong Kong.
Edison electric bus from 1915

An electric bus is a bus that is powered by electricity. There are two main electric bus categories: autonomous, where the energy is stored in the bus; and non-autonomous, where the electric energy is supplied continuously from outside the vehicle. Autonomous electric buses mainly comprise battery electric buses, although examples of other storage modes exist, such as the gyrobus which used flywheels. In non-autonomous buses electricity can be supplied by contact with overhead wires, as in the trolleybus, or more recently with non-contact conductors on the ground, as with the Online Electric Vehicle.[1]

Buses using a combination of internal combustion engines and electric propulsion are defined as hybrid electric buses or dual-mode buses, and are not covered in this article.


Battery electric bus[edit]

One of the most popular electric buses nowadays are the battery electric buses. They have stored the electricity on board in a battery. Today such buses have a range over 200 km with one charge. These buses are usually used because of its limited range as city buses. As a city bus with all costs they are cheaper than a comparable diesel bus.

City driving mostly is accelerating and braking the battery electric bus is superior to diesel buses as it can recharge most of the kinetic energy back to batteries in braking situations. This reduces brake wear and it also improves air quality in city centers.

When operating within a city it is important to minimize the unloaded and rolling weight of the bus. This can be accomplished by using aluminium as the main construction material for a bus. Composite paneling and other lightweight materials can also be used. According to Linkkebus their fully aluminium bus construction is about 3000 kg lighter than comparably-sized modern steel buses (curb weight 9500 kg) . Reducing weight allows for a greater payload and reduces wear to components such as brakes, tires, and joints bringing costs savings to the operator.[2]


Charging electric bus batteries is not as simple as refueling diesel engine. Special attention, monitoring, and scheduling are required to make optimal use of the charging process, while also ensuring proper battery maintenance and safekeeping. Some operators manage these challenges by purchasing extra buses. This way the charging can take place only at night. It is a safe solution, but also very costly and not scalable. The real solution is ensuring that the vehicle daily schedule takes into account also the need to charge, keeping the overall schedule as close to optimal as possible.[citation needed]

Today, there are various software companies that help bus operators manage their electric bus charging schedule. These solutions ensure that buses continue to operate safely, without any unplanned stops and inconvenience to passengers.

Capacitors bus[edit]

Buses can use capacitors instead of batteries to store their energy. Ultracapacitors can only store about 5 percent of the energy that lithium-ion batteries hold for the same weight, limiting them to a couple of miles per charge. However ultracapacitors can charge and discharge much more rapidly than conventional batteries. In vehicles that have to stop frequently and predictably as part of normal operation, energy storage based exclusively on ultracapacitors can be a solution.[3]

China is experimenting with a new form of electric bus, known as Capabus, which runs without continuous overhead lines by using power stored in large onboard electric double-layer capacitors, which are quickly recharged whenever the vehicle stops at any bus stop (under so-called electric umbrellas), and fully charged in the terminus.

A few prototypes were being tested in Shanghai in early 2005. In 2006, two commercial bus routes began to use electric double-layer capacitor buses; one of them is route 11 in Shanghai.[4] In 2009, Sinautec Automobile Technologies,[5] based in Arlington, VA, and its Chinese partner, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company[6] are testing with 17 forty-one seat Ultracap Buses serving the Greater Shanghai area since 2006 without any major technical problems.[7] Another 60 buses will be delivered early next year with ultracapacitors that supply 10 watt-hours per kilogram.

The buses have very predictable routes and need to stop regularly, every 3 miles (4.8 km), allowing opportunities for quick recharging. The trick is to turn some bus stops along the route into charging stations. At these stations, a collector on the top of the bus rises a few feet and touches an overhead charging line. Within a couple of minutes, the ultracapacitor banks stored under the bus seats are fully charged. The buses can also capture energy from braking, and the company says that recharging stations can be equipped with solar panels. A third generation of the product, will give 20 miles (32 km) of range per charge or better. [3] Such a bus was delivered in Sofia, Bulgaria in May 2014 for 9 months' test. It covers 23 km in 2 charges.[8]

Sinautec estimates that one of its buses has one-tenth the energy cost of a diesel bus and can achieve lifetime fuel savings of $200,000. Also, the buses use 40 percent less electricity compared to an electric trolley bus, mainly because they are lighter and have the regenerative braking benefits. The ultracapacitors are made of activated carbon, and have an energy density of six watt-hours per kilogram (for comparison, a high-performance lithium-ion battery can achieve 200 watt-hours per kilogram), but the ultracapacitor bus is also cheaper than lithium-ion battery buses, about 40 percent less expensive, with a far superior reliability rating.[3][7]

There is also a plug-in hybrid version, which also uses ultracaps.

Proterra's EcoRide BE35 transit bus, called the Ecoliner by Foothill Transit in West Covina, California, is the world’s first heavy duty, fast charge, battery-electric bus. Proterra's ProDrive drive-system uses a UQM motor and regenerative braking that captures 90% of the available energy and returns it to the TerraVolt energy storage system, which in turn increases the total distance the bus can drive by 31-35%. It can travel 30–40 miles on a single charge, is up to 600% more fuel-efficient than a typical diesel or CNG bus, and produces 44% less carbon than CNG.[9]

Future developments[edit]

Sinautec is in discussions with MIT's Schindall about developing ultracapacitors of higher energy density using vertically aligned carbon nanotube structures that give the devices more surface area for holding a charge. So far, they are able to get twice the energy density of an existing ultracapacitor, but they are trying to get about five times. This would create an ultracapacitor with one-quarter of the energy density of a lithium-ion battery.[10]

Future developments includes the use of inductive charging under the street, to avoid overhead wiring. A pad under each bus stop and at each stop light along the way would be used.

Pantographs and underbody collectors at bus stops[edit]

The lowered charging plate on an Arriva Shires & Essex Wright StreetLite EV bus whilst using induction to recharge its batteries at the Wolverton Agora bus stop.

Pantographs and underbody collectors are integrated in bus stops to quick electric bus recharge, making possible to use a smaller battery on the bus, which reduces the investment and subsequent costs.[11][12][13][14]


There is a 40-foot (12.2 m) pure electric bus being developed, using a pre-commercial battery technology. Electric Fuel Corporation is developing and demonstrating a 40-foot (12.2 m) electric bus powered by a zinc air cell,[15] along with an ultracapacitor. The zinc-air energy device, often described as a battery, converts zinc to zinc oxide in a process that provides energy to the bus. The bus is not recharged; instead, the zinc oxide cartridges are swapped out for new zinc ones. This bus has shown a range of over 100 miles (160 km) in testing and has been demonstrated in Las Vegas, Nevada. However, this technology is in the development phase, and several major hurdles must be overcome before it can be adopted for transit fleet use, including available refueling infrastructure or use in bus stations.[16]

School Buses[edit]

In 2014, the first production model all-electric school bus was delivered to the Kings Canyon Unified School District in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The Class-A school bus was built by Trans Tech Bus, using an electric powertrain control system developed by Motiv Power Systems, of Foster City, CA. The bus was one of four the district ordered. The first round of SST-e buses (as they are called) is partly funded by the AB 118 Air Quality Improvement Program administered by the California Air Resources Board.

The Trans Tech/Motiv vehicle has passed all KCUSD and California Highway Patrol inspections and certifications. Although some diesel hybrids are in use, this is the first modern electric school bus approved for student transportation by any state.

The first all-electric school bus in the state of California pausing outside the California capitol building in Sacramento.

Since 2015 the Canadian manufacturer Lion Bus offers a full size school bus, eLion, with a body made out of composites. It is a regular production version that is built and shipped in volume since early 2016, with around 50 units sold until 2017. [4]

Makers and models[edit]

Transit use[edit]

For information on where trolleybuses are in use, see Trolleybus usage by country and List of trolleybus systems.

Transit authorities that use battery buses or other types of all-electric buses, other than trolleybuses:




  • India's first electric bus was launched in Bengaluru in 2014.[17]
  • In October 2016, Ashok Leyland, launched First 100% India-made electric bus. The series has been named Circuit and it can carry 35 to 65 persons at a time.


BYD K8A,K9FE,C9,C8,K6,T8SA,T3 in Bengbu,Anhui,China
Beijing's electric bus fleet in service during the 2008 Olympics.

As of 2016, 156,000 buses are being put into service per year in China.[18]


Community Bus "Hamurun"

South Korea[edit]

Seoul's "Peanut Bus" at Mt. Namsan.
  • Seoul has 15 electric buses nicknamed "Peanut Bus" for their shape, transferring people from subway stations in downtown to the N Seoul Tower, circulating Mt. Namsan.[31]
  • Seoul's Gangnam District will have 11 electric buses in operation from February 2013 and 270 electric buses by the end of 2013, increasing to 400 buses by 2014.[32] At least 3,500 electric buses will be introduced in phases until 2020, which will account for half of Seoul's bus fleet.[33]
  • Gumi will have the world's first wireless electric bus, known as Online Electric Vehicle, in operation from July 2013 developed by KAIST. Electricity is wirelessly fed into the bus from the tracks.[1][34]
  • Pohang will have automatically battery switching electric buses in operation from July 2013. Unlike conventional plug-in charging buses, the battery pack is automatically swapped with a fully charged one before complete drainage.[35]



  • Е433 «Vitovt Max Electro» (Minsk)[36]


  • Espoo Cobus EL2500 (bus 11 Friisilä-Tapiola Centre)
  • Espoo (Linkker 2 vehicles, Bus 11 line Tapiola centre-Friisilä)[37]


Great Britain[edit]

  • 51 electric buses for the 507 and 521 bus routes in London, delivered jointly by BYD and ADL.[39]
  • Strathclyde Partnership for Transport have begun running battery-powered electric buses on one route in Glasgow, between George Square and the Transport Museum.[40]



A VDL Citea Electric charging at the bus station of West (Terschelling, NL).
  • 6 all-electric BYD buses in April 2013 on the island of Schiermonnikoog. Right now, there are many electric buses driving in the Netherlands. Starting 11 December 2016, with the new bus schedule for 2017, Hermes started running 43 buses to the bus transport of Eindhoven. Arriva started running 16 electric buses on Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog, and several more in Limburg. Utrecht already had electric buses on route 2, and trolley buses have been operating for decades in the city of Arnhem.


  • Kraków (Cracow): In January 2016, first 2 Solaris Urbino 12 electric buses were delivered by Solaris Bus & Coach. In September 2016, further 4 Solaris Urbino 8,9 LE electric buses were delivered by the same manufacturer. A roadside charger was installed at a bus stop on Pawia street.
  • Warszawa (Warsaw): In June 2015, Solaris Bus & Coach delivered 10 Solaris Urbino 12 electric buses. They are running on route 222. A further 20 electric buses are on order, first 10, manufactured by Ursus Bus and AMZ-Kutno, due to be delivered in summer of 2017 and further 10 Solaris Urbino 12 electrics by end of March 2018. There are also plans to purchase further 130 electric buses by 2020. 19 termini will be equipped with chargers, allowing buses to be topped-up using roof-mounted pantographs.[41][42][43]


  • In 2014 in Chelyabinsk began to run electric buses (hybrid trolleybus and electric car). Moves up to 30 kilometers on routes unequipped wires to distant parts of the city.[44]




ABB TOSA Energy Transfer System

North America[edit]


British Columbia[edit]

United States[edit]


There is a Californian mandate (Zero Emission Bus, in short, ZBus) that 15% of new buses after 2011 be electric.[60] The ZBus Regulation is part of the Fleet Rule for Transit Agencies, which is also referred to as the Public Transit Agencies Regulation.[61][62]

South America[edit]






See also[edit]


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External links[edit]