Rapid urbanization is placing a huge strain on cities’ infrastructure and public transit, and consequently creating environmental concerns for governments. Due to the degradation of the atmosphere, governments have to make huge investments in upgrading infrastructure, but will be challenged in this endeavor by their dependence on fuel imports, volatile fuel prices, and increasing reliance on conventional fuels. In order to attain sustainable growth and economical passenger mobility, the transportation industry, especially the transit bus sector, will have to adapt to newer powertrain systems and other advanced technologies, such as connectivity and hub-and-spoke multi-modal urban mobility.
Frost & Sullivan’s latest research focused on the global heavy-duty transit bus market indicates that sales of hybrid and electric (H&E) buses will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 20.6 percent by 2020. It is estimated that global penetration of hybrid buses will reach 9.7 percent by 2020, while electric buses will attain 5.7 percent penetration. Together, H&E transit bus unit shipments will reach close to 42,000 units.
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“Hybridization and electrification of powertrain is poised to become a global phenomenon in transit buses by 2020,” said Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation Senior Research Analyst Chandramowli Kailasam. “This trend will be driven by cash incentives, tax subsidiaries, stringent emission laws, regulations mandating green powertrains in transit buses for urban use, and overall financial aid for green technology.”
Developed countries all over the world have already started adopting advanced powertrains, such as H&E drives for transit buses, to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. These green powertrain systems are expected to improve fuel efficiency, and hedge against hikes in fuel price and ridership cost.
While transit bus systems are an integral part of society in the BRIC and other emerging economies, the success of transit bus systems in North America and Europe depends on public perception. Promoting transit buses as an environmentally friendly, convenient, and economical mode of transport can help bring in more ridership and encourage a switch from personal to public transport.
“The recent increase in the growth of bus rapid transit systems in many American and Canadian cities shows that hub-and-spoke mass transit systems are being developed to solve urban mobility and in this scheme of things, H&E buses will play an integral role,” noted Kailasam.
Many major Chinese bus OEMs are expected to go global and establish manufacturing bases overseas in both developed and emerging markets. Other global bus OEMs will seek potential partners in China to maximize revenue and set up production bases in this country to gain a price advantage.
Despite environmental concerns precipitating into stricter emission laws and eventually, stimulus packages, the uptake of H&E transit buses is more likely to be influenced by the global economy. The cash strapped transit bus authorities will prefer to invest in low-cost solutions that also satisfy emission laws. Most H&E suppliers are expected to pursue vertical integration in the coming years to increase their revenues. Gradually, by 2020, there could be a tilt toward parallel hybrids and ultracaps-based energy storage systems.