Electric buses can store the electricity on board, or can be fed continuously from an external source. Buses storing electricity are majorly battery electric buses, in which the electric motor obtains energy from an on-board battery, although examples of other storage modes do exist, such as the gyrobus which uses flywheel energy storage. When electricity is not stored on board, it is supplied by contact with outside power sources. For example, overhead wires, as in the trolleybus, or with non-contact conductors on the ground, as in online electric vehicles. This article mostly deals with buses storing the electricity on board.
As of 2019, 99% of the battery electric buses in the world have been deployed in China, with more than 421,000 buses on the road, which is 17% of China's total bus fleet. For comparison, the US had 300, and Europe had 2,250.
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Electric vehicles have been around since the 19th century. In the early 19th century, researchers in Hungary, the Netherlands, and the United States began exploring the idea of battery-powered vehicles. There had previously been progress with an electric carriage, a horseless carriage that was powered by an electric motor. However, as people wanted to get around more easily and quickly, cars became a faster and more reasonable alternative to horse-drawn carriages.
In 1835, American Thomas Davenport is credited with building the first practical electric vehicle, a small locomotive. He developed a battery-powered electric motor which he used to operate a small model car on a short section of track.
The first successful electric car was made in the United States in 1890. William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa, built an electric vehicle that could hold up to six passengers and could reach from 6 to 12 miles per hour. Specifications for the 1890 Morrison Electric included 24 storage battery cells mounted under the front seat. The vehicle could travel for a range of 100 miles before needing to be recharged.
This initial invention helped spark interest in electric cars, and automakers started building their own versions around the globe. Due to the extreme sudden interest, electric cars reached their peak popularity by 1900 and made up a majority of all vehicles on the road.
At this time electric cars were the preferred vehicles. Gasoline-powered vehicles required a lot of effort to drive, from changing gears to starting the engine with a hand crank, as well as other cons like strong and unpleasant exhaust fumes.
However, improvements were made to the gasoline-powered car that caused the electric car to lose some momentum. The hand crank was soon replaced with an electric starter and gasoline-powered vehicles became more affordable. Gasoline cars soon overcame the popularity of electric powered vehicles.
By 1935, electric cars practically disappeared. It was not until the 1970s when a gas shortage hit, causing gas prices to soar, that electric cars entered back into the marketplace. Gasoline-powered cars still remained more popular due to better performance and reliability.
The 1990s saw electric cars made more popular as societal concern for the environment began to rise. At the start of the 21st century, the technology of electric cars looked more promising than ever with the release of the Toyota Prius, the first majorly manufactured electric vehicle. Today, electric vehicles are on the rise and continue to advance as more Americans demand a more efficient and eco-friendly vehicle.
One of the most popular types of electric buses nowadays are battery electric buses. Battery electric buses have the electricity stored on board the vehicle in a battery. As of 2018[update] such buses can have a range of over 280 km with just one charge, however extreme temperatures and hills may reduce range. These buses are usually used as city buses due to particularities in limited range.
City driving involves a great deal of accelerating and braking. Due to this, the battery electric bus is superior to diesel bus as it can recharge most of the kinetic energy back into batteries in braking situations. This reduces brake wear on the buses and the use of electric over diesel reduces noise, air and greenhouse gas pollution in cities.
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 cost savings to the operator annually.
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 short distance 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.
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 on-board 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. In 2009, Sinautec Automobile Technologies, based in Arlington, VA, and its Chinese partner, Shanghai Aowei Technology Development Company are testing with 17 forty-one seat Ultracap Buses serving the Greater Shanghai area since 2006 without any major technical problems. 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 5 kilometres (3 mi), 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 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 32 kilometres (20 mi) of range per charge or better.  Such a bus was delivered in Sofia, Bulgaria in May 2014 for 9 months' test. It covers 23 km in 2 charges.
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.
There is also a plug-in hybrid version, which also uses ultracaps.
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.
As with other electric vehicles, climate control and extremely cold weather will weaken the performance of electric buses. In addition, terrain may pose a challenge to the adoption of electric vehicles that carry stored energy compared to trolleybuses, which draw power from overhead lines. Even when conditions are favorable, internal combustion engine buses are frequently diesel powered, and diesel is relatively inexpensive per mile. High local utility rates (especially during periods of peak demand) and proprietary charging systems pose barriers to adoption.
Makers and models
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, California. 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.
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.
- 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:
- TransJakarta plans to replace aging fleet with newer electric powered buses. Available candidates are locally made MAB buses and imported BYD buses. Technical trials started by September 2019.
- Paiton Energy took delivery of the first locally produced electric bus made by PT MAB.
- India's first electric bus was launched in Bengaluru in 2014.
- The first inter-city bus service, from Mumbai to Pune, was launched in 2019.
- In October 2016, Ashok Leyland, launched the first 100% India-made electric bus. The series have been named Circuit and it can carry 35 to 65 persons at a time.
- Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal (PMPML) have employed electric buses supplied by BYD and its Indian partner Olectra Greentech.
- Himachal Road Transport Corporation have started to employ Goldstone-BYD (Model K7e Buzz - 9 meters) in local routes in Himachal Pradesh
- BEST (Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport) have started to employ Goldstone-BYD buses on few selected routes in Mumbai
- Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) have started to ply Goldstone-BYD buses in Hyderabad and Secunderabad
- Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) have started to ply JBM-supplied JBM Solaris buses on local routes.
- Ahmedabad Janmarg Ltd. have employed buses manufactured by Ashok Leyland in BRTS
As of 2016, 156,000 buses are being put into service per year in China.
- Changsha (BYD x 180 vehicles)
- Haikou (BYD)
- Lhasa, First solar powered public bus in 2015 
- Shanghai (capabuses).
- Shaoguan (BYD)
- Shenzhen (BYD x 16,359 vehicles). As of 1 January 2018, every bus in Shenzhen is battery-electric.
- Tianjin (BYD)
- Xi'an (BYD)
- Bengbu (BYD x 638 vehicles)
- Community Bus "Hamurun" (Operated by Nishi Tokyo Bus) in Hamura, Tokyo since 10 March 2012
- Community Bus "Sumida Hyakkei" (Operated by Keisei Bus) in Sumida, Tokyo since 20 March 2012
- Kitakyushu City, Japan.
- 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.
- 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. At least 3,500 electric buses will be introduced in phases until 2020, which will account for half of Seoul's bus fleet.
- 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.
- 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.
- Е433 «Vitovt Max Electro» (Minsk)
The electrification of Belgium's buses is on a strong upward trend:
- Flanders: At the end of 2019 De Lijn operated 2,295 buses, of which 368 were hybrids. De Lijn introduced its first six fully electric buses in 2020, with seven more to follow. An order for 970 electric buses, which had been cancelled, is to be reissued. The Flemish coalition agreement states that city centres must be operated emission-free by 2025 and that all buses in Flanders must be zero-emission by 2035.
- Wallonia: At the end of 2019, OTW operated 1,769 of its own buses, of which 309 were hybrids.
- Brussels: At the end of 2019 STIB/MIVB operated 800 buses, of which 184 (23%) of them were hybrids. Tenders for 50-100 electric buses are being prepared and the hydrogen option is also being examined.
As for fully electric buses, Belgium only had 4 in operation in 2019.
- Since 2018 Sofia operates a fleet of 20 Yutong battery electric buses and 15 Higer capabuses
- Since 2020 Kazanlak operates a fleet of 7 Alfabus battery electric buses
- Espoo Cobus EL2500 (bus 11 Friisilä-Tapiola Centre)
- Espoo (Linkker 2 vehicles, Bus 11 line Tapiola centre-Friisilä)
- 51 electric buses for the 507 and 521 bus routes in London, delivered jointly by BYD and ADL.
- Stagecoach North Scotland operates 5 Optare solo EV 
- Strathclyde Partnership for Transport runs battery-powered electric buses on one route in Glasgow, between George Square and the Transport Museum.
- Bristol: Route 72 from City Centre to Frenchay UWE campus
- Durham: Cathedral and City Centre loop
- Milton Keynes: Route 7
- Greater Manchester: Stagecoach plans to buy 105 electric buses for use in the Greater Manchester area by 2020.
- Guildford introduced a fleet of electric buses on its Park and Ride services on 7 January 2019.
- Azienda Trasporti Bergamo — Bergamo, Italy 
- Gruppo Torinese Trasporti — Turin, Italy, uses small capacitor vehicles on two routes ("Star1" and "Star2") through city center since early 2000.
- Azienda Trasporti Milanesi, the company responsible for public transportation in Milan, has ordered 250 electric buses in 2019, and plans to be fully electrified by 2030. As of 2019, there are 25 electric buses, 100 hybrid buses and 3 hydrogen buses in operation in the city.
- Israel has 78 electric buses, out of a fleet of ~13,000 buses 
- Municipal public transport company "Klaipėdos autobusų parkas", Klaipėda, started using locally produced Dancer electric buses on Route 8 in April 2020.
- Municipal public transport company "Kauno autobusai", Kaunas, operates electric trolleybuses since 1965. As of April 2020, the company operated around 100 Solaris Trollino 12AC and several Berkhof Premier AT18 trolleybuses on a network of 17 lines.
- Municipal public transport company "Tauragės autobusų parkas", Tauragė in March 2019 announced the acquisition of electric Iveco Rosero 70C18 and Solaris Urbino Electric buses. A total of 5 electric buses were launched on three suburban routes in early 2020.
- Municipal public transport company "Susisiekimo paslaugos", Vilnius, began using four Karsan Jest Electric buses on Route 89 in September 2019, making this route fully electric. This is an addition to the network of 19 routes, operated with 279 electric trolleybuses, mostly Solaris Trollino 15AC, Solaris Trollino IV 12, Škoda 14Tr, Škoda 14ТrМ, Škoda 15Тr and Amber Vilnis 12 AC, as of April 2020. Vilnius trolleybus network was launched in 1956.
The Netherlands has the most electric buses of any European country. At the end of 2019 the number had reached 770, or 15% of the entire Dutch fleet of 5,236 buses. This is expected to grow to 1,388 by the end of 2020. In the provinces of Groningen and Drenthe 47% of buses are electric, in Limburg 37% and in North Holland 31%. The main manufacturers are VDL (486 of the existing 770) Ebusco (110), Heuliez (49) and BYD (44). In 2015, the Dutch public transport authorities agreed to buy only emission-free buses from 2025 onwards, and to make the entire fleet emission-free by 2030.
In December 2018 GVB ordered 31 electric buses from VDL, with an option for 69 more buses. They entered service on 2 April 2020 on routes 15, 22 and 36, and comprise:
- 9 Citeas SLF-120 Electric, with 216 kWh batteries
- 22 articulated Citeas SLFA-180 Electric, with 288 kWh batteries
The buses recharge through a pantograph from 31 8 MW Heliox fast chargers at the Garage West depot on Jan Tooropstraat and seven 45 kW chargers at Sloterdijk station. EBS (Egged Bus Systems), which primarily serves Waterland to the north of Amsterdam, has also ordered 10 electric buses from VDL.
On 11 December 2016 Hermes introduced 43 fully electric VDL 18-metre buses in Eindhoven, driving a daily distance of 400 km each. In 2017 this was the biggest all-electric bus operation of Europe.
For use on its Haaglanden network EBS is using 116 electric buses:
- 23 VDL Citea LLE 99 Electrics for Zoetermeer and Delft (10-metre)
- 93 Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT Hybrids for other routes (83 12-metre and 10 18-metre articulated)
Since March 2018, 100 VDL Citea articulated electric buses operated by Connexxion have served Schiphol airport. The buses have a battery capacity of 170 kWh and a range of 80 kilometres. They are charged during the day by Heliox 450 kWh fast chargers, taking between 15 and 25 minutes. Overnight, 30 kWh slow charges take 4-5 hours. They are powered by 100% renewable energy, from wind power and solar panels at the depots. The buses serve two different networks:
- R-Net: routes 242, 342, 347 and 347 with a total length of 78 km
- Schipholnet: routes 180, 181, 185, 186, 187, 190, 191, 194, 195, 198, 199 and 287.
Since 2016 a fleet of 35 BYD 12-metre battery buses has provided airfield services.
In Utrecht, Qbuzz has operated electric buses since 2017.
In April 2013 six all-electric BYD buses operated on the island of Schiermonnikoog. Arriva started running 16 electric buses on Vlieland, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog.
- 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, 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.
- Zielona Góra: In October 2017 MZK Zielona Góra order 47 electric buses Ursus City Smile 12E manufactured by Ursus Bus.
- Stalowa Wola: In September 2017 ZMKS Stalowa Wola order 10 electric buses Solaris Urbino 8,9 LE electric manufactured by Solaris Bus & Coach.
- Cluj-Napoca: In May 2018, Solaris Bus & Coach delivered 11 Solaris Urbino 12 electric buses to the local operator CTP Cluj, Cluj-Napoca becoming the first city in Romania to use battery-electric buses in public transport. (Electric buses in the form of trolleybuses were already in use in Cluj and several other Romanian cities.) Another 19 buses are expected to be delivered in the future. The municipality's mayor, Emil Boc, announced that Cluj will have a fully electric public transport system by 2025.
- In 2014 battery-powered trolleybuses started operating in Chelyabinsk. The remodeled vehicles can run up to 30 km on routes that lack wires.
- In 2018 electric buses were introduced in Moscow. The city government has signed contracts with GAZ and Kamaz automobile companies to supply the city with 200 fast-charging electric buses. After 2021, only electric vehicles are to be purchased. With the purchase of the 100th electric bus in May 2019, Moscow became the city with Europe's largest electric bus fleet. As of July 2020, over 450 electric buses are in operation in Moscow.
- Russian based Electric bus manufactures are LiAZ (GAZ Group), Trolza (PC Transport Systems) and Kamaz.
- In 2016 GSP Belgrade, the public transport operator of city of Belgrade, launched dedicated electric bus line equipped exclusively with 5 electric buses. The line has a total length of 7.9 kilometres one-way and 13 bus stops.
- Empresa Malagueña de Transportes (EMT), S.A.M
- Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid 20 all-electric and 20 hybrid diesel-electric buses and since February 2017 one Iziar ie2.
- Councillor for the Environment, Figueres
- León: Minibus Tecnobus Gulliver in El Ejido
- Västtrafik is running 10 electric Volvo buses in Gothenburg on route 55
- VL is running a fleet of electric Solaris buses in Västerås on route 1 to 7
- transport public genève (tpg) introduce TOSA Flash Mobility, Clean City, Smart Bus a new system of mass transport with electric “flash” recharging of the buses at selected bus stops.
- Vancouver electric buses have been in operation since 1948, TransLink operates 260 of them.
- Victoria - CVS Tours currently deploys North America's first all-electric double decker bus made by GreenPower Motor Company.
- Réseau de transport de la Capitale, Quebec City's public transit authority has integrated 8 electric buses to its fleet in 2008 to serve the Old City. The Tecnobus Gulliver buses can carry up to 20 passengers and runs on $3.25 worth of electricity per day.
- Société de transport de Montréal, Montreal, bus fleet going all-electric or hybrid by 2029. 2017 - Cité-Mobilité project : 3 electric bus on line 36 with high-speed charging.
About 650 electric buses were on the road in the US in 2019, about double the 300 estimated to be in use the previous year. In November 2019, orders for new electric buses had outpaced manufacturing capacity.
Cities using electric buses include:
- Anaheim, CA
- Atlanta, GA (at Emory University)
- Cambridge, MA (with the 71, 72, 73, and some 77 busses to and from Harvard Square)
- Chattanooga, TN - CARTA Downtown Electric Shuttle
- Colorado Springs, CO
- Dallas, TX
- Dayton, OH
- Denver, CO - RDT Free MallRide
- Frederick, MD
- Greenville, SC
- Gulfport, MS, with Mississippi's first electric bus in 2019 
- Hampton, VA
- Lexington, KY
- Los Angeles, CA
- Louisville, KY
- Miami Beach, FL
- Mobile, AL
- Nashville, TN
- New Haven, CT
- Pomona, CA
- Portland, ME, received funding for Maine's first electric buses, operational 2021 
- Portland, OR
- Philadelphia, PA
- Providence, Rhode Island The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority RIPTA is currently testing 3 electric buses on various routes around Providence.
- Reno, NV
- Santa Barbara, CA
- San Antonio, TX
- San Diego, CA
- San Francisco, CA, where electric trolleybuses are already commonplace on most SF Muni routes.
- Seattle, WA, which has a trolleybus network of its own.
- Seneca, SC
- Stockton, CA
- Tallahassee, FL
- Worcester, MA
- Wichita, KS
A California mandate (Zero Emission Bus, in short, ZBus) required that 15% of new buses after 2011 be electric. The ZBus Regulation is part of the Fleet Rule for Transit Agencies, which is also referred to as the Public Transit Agencies Regulation.
By 2019, more than 200 e-buses were in service in California. Several hundred more e-buses for California were in backlogged orders.
States without plans for e-buses
In 2019, "only five states, Arkansas, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia, ... [had] no transit agencies planning to operate electric buses or hydrogen fuel cell buses."
- In September 2017, Transport Canberra began operating two electric buses based at their Tuggeranong depot.
- Transport for New South Wales began a trial of electric buses on the South Coast before conducting a more expansive trial in region 4 in Sydney in 2019.
- Melbourne's first fully electric bus began carrying passengers on Route 246 between Elsternwick and Clifton Hill in October 2019. The body construction and fit out for the new bus was carried out in Dandenong by Volgren.
- In April 2018, Auckland Transport began a trial with two electric Alexander Dennis Enviro200 buses. These buses run on the City Link service around Auckland's central business district. The trial continues as of February 2019.
- In July 2018, Tranzurban introduced 10 electric double Decker buses in Wellington. 22 more buses are expected to be in service by 2021. NZ Bus have ordered 67 single Decker buses which will enter service between 2021 and 2023.
- In June 2019, Red Bus introduced three Alexander Dennis Enviro200 bodied BYD K9 electric buses for use on the 29 Airport route.
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Dancer can carry up to 93 passengers, it has 32 seats and a designated place for one handicapped passenger. Its body is made of composite materials that include recycled PET bottles.The electricity for Dancer buses is also purchased exclusively from wind farms, according to the company.
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