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Electric Buses Are Struggling to Gain Traction Worldwide

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An electric bus in France.

There were about 425,000 electric buses in service in the world’s cities last year. Almost all—99 percent of them—were in China. The booming industrial city of Shenzhen, in particular, is one of only a few cities to have fully electrified its fleet. The rest of the globe, meanwhile, is racing to catch up, and falling further behind.

It’s not the lack of ambition that’s stopping them: With the goal of curbing carbon emissions in mind, municipal leaders all over have pledged to partially, if not fully, replace their city’s fleet with e-buses over the next decades. A number of cities, from large metropolises like Mexico City to more modest ones like Philadelphia, have started pilot tests.

What prevents cities from adopting electric buses en masse is a mix of technological, financial, and institutional challenges, according to a pair of reports from the World Resource Institute looking at efforts in 16 cities at various stages of adopting e-buses. That first report focuses on three major types of barriers, while the second highlights how to overcome them.

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