Powering Urban Transit with Electric Buses!

Imagine hopping on a bus that doesn’t rumble with a noisy engine, doesn’t emit clouds of exhaust, and doesn’t rely on fossil fuels. Instead, it glides through the streets silently, powered by clean and sustainable electricity. Yes, we’re diving headfirst into the remarkable realm of electric buses – the next big revolution in urban transportation!

Electric buses have become more than just a novelty in recent years – they have become a necessity. As we face the challenges of climate change and air pollution, it is crucial to reimagine our transportation systems and prioritize sustainable alternatives.

Why Electrify City Buses?

  • As the upfront cost of an EV is more than an ICE vehicle, fleet operators with regular and high utilization stand to benefit from lower operating & maintenance costs resulting from economies of scale. City buses, with fixed routes that cover large areas, eminently fit the bill.
  • Buses ply in urban environments where noise and air pollution are major issues. Electric buses solve for both as they generate much less noise and have zero tailpipe emissions.
  • India, in comparison to nations like Brazil, Mexico, and China, requires 300,000 new buses to accommodate its quickly expanding population. This offers a chance to switch from diesel-powered buses to cleaner electric vehicles.

Source: WRI Report on Electric Buses

Only 4,909 of the 12,15,397 total buses in India are electric buses, making about 0.4% of the total.

The two most common bus lengths in India are the 9 m (Midi) bus and the 12 m (Standard) bus. Due to their lower CAPEX costs and narrower streets in cities, 9m buses were favored by most cities.

Source: Vahan SewaUNESCAP  

Anatomy of an Electric Bus

Source: Research gate 

Battery 

  • The battery in the eBus may be placed either on the floorboard or on the roof of the chassis 
  • Lithium-ion batteries are crucial for electric vehicles, with energy consumption primarily influenced by vehicle weight. In the e-bus segment, competition for the highest energy density is fierce.
  • Should have high energy density (to provide a long driving range) & high power density (to increase the acceleration)
  • Currently, lithium iron phosphate (LFP), lithium titanium oxide (LTO) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC) dominate the Electric bus batteries 
bmz battery

Comparison of a 12-metre e-bus range after 10 years of use, when NMC or LTO batteries are installed. (2021 research)

Clearly from the above, NMC wins the race as it offers both high energy density and ability to fast charge, making it suitable for both opportunity and depot charging (see below). 

LTO offers high charging power but low energy density, and is only suitable for opportunity charging. LFP is more feasible in slow-charging situations.

Source: BMZ Poland  

Charging Methods for Electric Buses in India

Depot Charging is typically slow-charging done overnight when the buses are not plying and does not require additional charging infrastructure en-route. 

Opportunity Charging involves fast-charging during short stops en-route and enables smaller battery packs in buses, but requires conveniently located charging stations.

  • Plug-in charging is the primary method for charging e-buses globally, with AC or DC outputs. 
  • Pantograph charging uses an automated system for DC charging at high power levels. The e-bus must be designed with specific battery chemistries for high resilience. 

Other charging techniques, such as wireless and battery swapping, have been applied, but their adoption remains pilot-level and empirical research on trade-offs is not encouraging. 

Source: WRI India

What are the economics (TCO) of an electric bus in India

  • The focus on electrification of the public transport bus fleets is essential for future-proofing long-term capital investment decisions. 
  • However, for a typical daily utilization of 200km, electric buses currently have a higher TCO per km than diesel (low-cost models) and CNG-fueled buses. 
  • The TCO per km for electric buses is INR 60.47, as compared to INR 69.28 for high-end diesel buses and INR 44.30 for low-cost diesel buses. 
  • For electrified public transport fleets to be economically competitive for transit agencies, electric buses need higher utilization or financial incentives to lower capital costs.

Source: WRI India

Key Electric Bus OEMs in India

Source: Vehicle info (Feb 23)

Deals & Developments in the eBus space

  • July 2023: JBM Auto and its subsidiaries have won orders for approximately 5,000 electric buses for supplying to various STUs & leading corporates

Do write in to us with topics in Climate-tech, Mobility, and New Energy that you’d like us to cover in future editions.

Share:

Ostara update

More Posts

Mukund Ranganathan

Partner

Marquee deals

Mukund Ranganathan

Partner

Mukund is a seasoned investment banker with 27 years of experience in advising companies on M&A and capital raising transactions. He has served most recently as Joint Managing Director at Motilal Oswal Investment Banking, where he worked from June 2014 to January 2021. During his career, he has facilitated over 70 strategic financial transactions including Motherson Sumi’s acquisition of PKC Group (Finland), sale of Aurangabad Electricals to Mahindra CIE, Siemens’ sale of Bangalore Airport, sale of Spicejet, Aegis’ acquisition of PeopleSupport (USA), sale of Air Deccan among others. Mukund has extensive experience in raising private equity funding as well as in the capital markets including IPOs, follow-on offerings, GDRs and ADRs for L&T Finance, Indostar, Dixon Technologies, Bharat Financial Inclusion, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, GAIL, etc.

Mukund has earlier worked for 9 years at Edelweiss Financial Services and started his career in 1996 with a 9-year stint at Morgan Stanley. Mr. Ranganathan holds a B.Tech degree in Electrical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology Madras (1994) and a PGDM from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (1996).

Vasudha Madhavan

Marquee deals

Vasudha Madhavan

Founder & CEO

Vasudha is the founder of Ostara Advisors (formerly Dhruva Advisors) and is one of the first investment bankers in India to specialise in Electric Mobility, having advised clients in this space since 2017. She made her all-India M&A League Table debut in the top 20 in October 2018.

In 2023, Vasudha was felicitated by India Energy Storage Alliance (IESA) as one of the “Women leaders driving energy sector in India” 

Vasudha has over 21 years of experience in Corporate & Investment Banking; with leading organizations like Citibank and ICICI Bank, as well as in boutique investment banking, based in Mumbai and Bangalore. Vasudha is responsible for having set up and expanded the ‘Private Equity & Hedge Fund’ coverage vertical for Citibank, India. She has also been part of Citibank’s Risk Management team for mid-size corporates, managing the bank’s lending decisions to a portfolio of companies in ITES, auto components, facilities management services, logistics, diversified manufacturing etc.

Vasudha is also a mentor at Aspire for Her, a unique organisation that enables women to join and stay in the workforce, through campus engagement, mentorships and skilling workshops. Their vision is to impact 1 million+ women and add $5B to India’s GDP through increased participation of women in the workforce by 2025.

Vasudha earned her MBA in Finance from XLRI, Jamshedpur, India and her Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from Mount Carmel College, Bangalore, India. She is also a certified Advanced Scuba Diver and enjoys photography, having held several solo and group exhibitions of her work.

R. 'Shanx' Ravisankar

Industry Expert – Financial Technology and Cloud Solutions

Shanx is a founding member and former CEO of Oracle Financial Services Software, (formerly known as i-flex Solutions, the company was acquired by Oracle in 2006). Shanx retired in 2011 as the Chief Operating Officer, Oracle Financial Services Global Business Unit (FSGBU). As a technology leader, he has also been profiled in leading trade and industry publications. In 2008, Shanx was selected as one of the 50 Outstanding Asian American business leaders. This accolade celebrates Asian business leaders and recognizes their pivotal roles in Corporate America. Shanx is an engineering graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Chennai, and has an MBA in Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India.
Get our monthly exclusive updates on the Electric Mobility ecosystem

Subscribe to Ostara Research