Enter the electric bus. According to the "the cleanliness"Among the electrical networks to which they are connected, electric buses are much better for the environment and they are also more enjoyable: less vibration, less noise, zero exhaust. Buses have lower operating costs, and with their streamlined electric motors, they are easier to maintain (at least once maintenance workers accustomed to internal combustion learn how to use them).
It is therefore logical that global sales of electronic buses increased by 32% last year, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "You see the electrification of cars, trucks – these are the buses that are driving this revolution," said David Warren, director of sustainable transportation at the New Flyer bus builder.
Today, about 17% of buses in the world are electric – 425,000 in total. But 99% of them are in China, where a national mandate aims to promote all kinds of electric vehicles. In the United States, a few cities bought some electric buses, or at least a limited number of pilots, to test the concept. California has even mandated that by 2029, all the buses bought by its public transport agencies are zero emission.
But given all the benefits of electronic buses, why are there no more? And why are not they all over?
"We want to be responsive, we want to be innovative, we want to drive new technologies and we are determined to do it as an agency," said Becky Collins, head of the company's business initiative. Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, currently on its second e-bus pilot program. "But if the diesel bus was a first-generation car phone, we are at the limit on the smartphone territory right now. It's not as simple as simply switching a switch. "
Aarian Marshall covers autonomous vehicles, transport policy and WIRED urban planning.
One of the reasons is the concern about the current electric vehicle. Some of the biggest bus factories are still on their skis, in terms of production. In early tests in locations such as Belo Horizonte, Brazil, electric buses struggled to climb steep slopes with full passenger load. Albuquerque, New Mexico, canceled its 15 bus deal with Chinese manufacturer BYD after find equipment problems during the tests. (The city too pursued). Current buses travel approximately 225 km per charge, depending on topography and weather conditions. They must therefore make about eleven daily flights on a shorter route in a dense city. This is a problem in many places.
If you want to buy an electric bus, you have to buy an electric bus. system. The vehicle is only the beginning.
The first thing people seem to forget about electric buses is that they have to get paid. "We're talking to so many organizations that are so obsessed with vehicles," said Camron Gorguinpour, global head of electric vehicles at the World Resources Institute, a research organization that organized last month twin reports on the adoption of the electric bus. "Current charging stations are getting lost in the mix."
But charging stations are expensive – about $ 50,000 for your standard depot-based station. Road charging stations, an attractive option for longer bus routes, can be two or three times more numerous. And that does not even count the construction costs. Or the cost of new land: in densely populated urban centers, movements inside bus depots can be closely coordinated to include parking and refueling. The new electric bus infrastructure involves rethinking the limited space. And it's especially painful when agencies make the transition from diesel buses to electric buses. "The big problem is to maintain two types of refueling infrastructure," said Hanjiro Ambrose, a PhD student at UC Davis, who studies technology and transportation policy.
"We're talking to so many organizations that are so obsessed with vehicles, the current charging stations are getting lost in the mix."
Camron Gorguinpour, World Resources Institute
Then the agencies must also route the current electricity to their charging stations. This involves lengthy conversations with utilities about network upgrades, rethinking how systems are wired, creating new substances on occasion and, sometimes, agreements on production. # 39; electricity. Because a fully electrified bus fleet? It's a lot to load. Warren, the New Executive Flyer, estimates that it would take 150 megawatt hours of electricity to power a 300 bus depot loaded all day. Your typical American household, on the other hand, consumes 7% per year. "That's a lot of work for the utility company," says Warren.
For cities outside of China, many of them still test electric buses and determine their place in their largest fleet of vehicles, learning what is needed to make them work is part of the process. . This, of course, takes money. It also takes time. Optimists say that e-buses are more about knowing when. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that nearly 60% of all park buses will be electric by 2040, compared with less than 40% of commercial vans and 30% of passenger vehicles.
Which means, of course, that the work has just begun. "With new technology, you always feel good when it's in place," says Ambrose. "You really hope that the first kilometer is beautiful, because the brilliance will dissipate.This is still true."
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