The world is going electric. Seeing an electric car on a street is not a big deal anymore and no one points a finger at it with surprise. However, electric buses are really not that common. Now Hyundai Motor unveiled its new all-electric-powered bus with plans of putting it into mass production. What does it mean for public transportation? Where do we go from here?
Obviously, we do not see more electric buses for a reason. Big vehicles that require a lot of power are not practical in electric disguise. Simply put, charging time is too long and range is too small. While it is ok for a car to go 500 km on a single charge, bus must go several times further than that. But Hyundai’s Elec City shows a move to an interesting direction where electric buses start becoming actually feasible – it has a range of up to 290 km and its 256 kWh lithium-ion polymer battery can be fully charged in just over an hour.
That is still not ideal, but Elec City could certainly be used as a normal city bus, except that it would have to take regular pauses. Electric buses are moving into modern cities. In Chinese cities they are getting more and more popular and even in Europe electric buses are stepping into some downtowns and old towns. EU has set a goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 % by 2050 and public health is an increasing concern. Therefore, city air must be cleaner than it is and that is why orders of electric city buses are slowly but surely moving up. And Hyundai wants a piece of this growing pie.
Not only Europe and China, but the rest of the world is turning electric as well. Hyundai’s Elec City is certain to find a comfortable spot in transportation systems around the world. World Bank official has presented estimates that 23 % of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions are created by the global transport sector. That is why many cities are trying to implement some sort of electric transportation. While many go for electric buses, some are stuck with trolleybuses.
Hyundai Elec City is going into production in 2018. It is likely that China is going to be its primary market, but the bus looks suitable for service around the world. In fact, its design looks a little bit American. We will have to wait and see how it will be incorporated into existing transportation systems and how companies are going to deal with 1 hour charging time.
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