Sustainability Share of electric buses by country in Europe


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Air pollution is definitely not something desirable in our cities and vehicles are the main culprit in developed countries. This has been one of the arguments in favour of hybrid and electric vehicles. The other argument is that EV are better for the climate, although I have cast doubt about the judiciousness of replacement one's petrol car by an electric one for people who do not drive much. What is certain is that in the case of taxis and buses, electrifying the fleet is all benefits. Regarding taxis, London has already decreed that private hire vehicles licensed for the first time will be required to be zero emission capable from 1st January 2023. Brussels passed a similar rule that will come into force on 1st January 2025.

Here we can see that the percentage of newly registered low-emission city buses in the EU and UK has passed from about 40% in 2021 to 75% in early 2023.


But there are huge regional disparities. So which countries are leading the way? According to Sustainable Bus, six European Member States exclusively registered zero-emission city buses during this quarter: the Netherlands, Denmark, Slovenia, Ireland, Finland, and Portugal. Sweden came 7th with about 95%.

Sales share of city buses Europe 2023.png

The zero-emission bus targets vary a lot by country too. This map was retrieved from the International Council on Clean Transportation's website.

Zero-emission bus targets.png

If we sort the countries by target years to reach 100%, we get:
  1. Denmark & Netherlands : 2025
  2. Norway : 2028
  3. Bulgaria, Latvia & Luxembourg : 2030
  4. United Kingdom : 2034
  5. Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Sweden & Switzerland : 2035
  6. Austria & Portugal : 2040
Countries with no official target for 100% of zero-emission buses are: Cyprus, Czechia, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain.

As we can see, these objectives have nothing to do with how wealthy a country is. Latvia and Bulgaria do better than most of Western European countries. It's just a matter of political will.
I made a map of the total market share of electric & alternative fuel buses using data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (AECE) for 2022. The data shows the percentages of e-buses & alternative fuel buses already in circulation, not the percentage among new registrations in 2022. Note that Estonia had 83.7% of alternative fuel buses in its fleet, but not a single electric or hybrid bus. Belgium had the highest share of hybrid buses (40.8%), while Finland had the highest share of battery electric buses (66.9%). Iceland and Cyprus were the only two countries with 100% of diesel buses, although high percentages were also observed in Greece (99.6%), Portugal (96.4%), Croatia (94.1%), Czechia (92%) and Slovenia (90.6%).


This second map shows the percentages of e-buses & alternative fuel buses among newly registered vehicles in Spring 2023. We see that northern European countries as well as Portugal, Slovenia and Romania show a willingness to replace their current fleet almost exclusively by e-buses. Oddly, countries like Austria and Czechia appear to have no such ambition and are sticking with polluting diesel buses.

Here is an interesting video that compares the pros and cons of hydrogen fuel cell trucks versus battery electric trucks. The arguments are also valid for buses and in most cases also cars. In some situations hydrogen trucks might be preferable but overall battery electric ones tend to be better.


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