Mobility

Electric buses are taking over Europe – they outran diesel bus sales in 2023

electric buses europe transport environment

Photo: Claudio Bianchi from Pixabay

Published

June 7, 2024

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Published:

June 7, 2024

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Electric buses accounted for 36% of new city bus sales in 2023 in the European Union, overtaking diesel as the main type for the first time. According to Transport and Environment, the share was the highest in Slovenia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Finland.

At this growth rate, 100% of new EU city buses could be zero emission (ZE) units already by 2027, Transport and Environment said.

It added that EU regulation is falling behind market realities. The recently adopted CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles (HDVs) require 90% of new city buses to be ZE by 2030, and 100% by 2035.

The even less ambitious Clean Vehicles Directive (CVD) sets average ZE procurement targets of only 20% for 2021–2025 and 30% for 2026–2030, the organization said.

electric buses europe targets transport environment

UK is frontrunner in Europe

Looking at the state level, 15 EU member states outperform the EU average in 2023, including five where ZE city buses already account for more than 90% of new sales: Slovenia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, and Finland.

Among the markets with at least 1,000 new city buses in 2023, the UK holds the first place, with a share of new sales of 63% in 2023, and Spain is just above the EU average, with a 40% ZE share, T&E said.

Italy ranks third and Germany came in fourth, with 29% and 26%, respectively.

According to the organization, at least eight cities plan to have 100% ZE bus fleets by 2025, an additional 19 by 2030, and another 13 by 2035. Fourteen cities have set bus fleet targets below 100% by 2035 or earlier. They are not only in Western Europe, but also in the Baltics, Czechia, Poland, and Romania.

Even some countries have targets. The Netherlands and Denmark plan to have all urban buses with zero emissions by 2030.

electric buses europe states increase transport environment

Risk for European busmakers

T&E stressed the key role of busmakers is to provide sustainable, made-in-Europe buses, estimating that demand for ZE buses would continue to increase in the coming years.

Without proactive ambition to go beyond the targets set in the HDV CO2 standards, European busmakers risk being blindsided by soaring demand and emerging foreign competition, the organization said.

It noted that since 2017, one in five new battery electric buses sold in Europe was of Chinese origin.

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