Electric buses in India: technology, policy and benefits

Over the past decade, India’s cities have been witnessing an increasing trend in motorization with deteriorating air quality, and there have been calls to promote public transport as a way out of this gridlock. It is in this context that electric buses can play a positive role, as there are several benefits associated with the shift from conventional diesel buses to electric buses in terms of reduction in local pollution, noise, and fuel consumption. In spite of the many positive benefits related to the electric bus technology, certain challenges remain. Primary among these are costs and safety concerns. Currently, the Electric Vehicle (EV) technology is associated with significant capital costs, with the battery component constituting about half of the total manufacturing costs. Safety is yet another important parameter, and the biggest concern is that of a fire hazard. However, with a good Battery Management System (BMS), rigorous implementation of standard operating procedures, and customization of bus fleet, both safety and cost aspects can be effectively addressed. Electric buses have already been deployed on a large scale globally, and the technology is mature and evolving continuously. The current policy climate in India is rightly addressing the challenges of electric buses, providing an environment to accelerate their adoption and implementation. However, like any new technology, policy implementers, such as State Road Transport Undertakings (SRTUs), need a better understanding of the technology and policy landscape, along with a robust assessment of the benefits. In this context, the current report aims to serve as a reference document for adoption of electric buses in the Indian context, assessing their benefits and summarizing the policy and technology landscape.

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