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Manufacturers resist finance pressure over electric buses

Boris Johnson speaking at today's Global Bus Summit

Boris Johnson speaking at today’s Global Bus Summit

Vehicle manufacturers and developers of electric and hydrogen buses have stopped short of agreeing to give discounted prices at a global Clean Bus Summit hosted today by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

London’s City Hall today saw representatives from a number of cities from around the world who are members of the C40 group, meeting in London with bus manufacturers and financiers.

The aim of the event, titled the Clean Bus Summit, was to build on the Global Clean Bus Declaration, developed by the Mayor of London in partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, and launched in Buenos Aires in March 2015.  Four additional cities – Amsterdam, Lima, Catalonia (Barcelona) and Rome – signed up to the declaration, which is still open for additional signatories, at today’s London summit.

But, the event was overshadowed by a dispute over the costs of producing electric buses in light of the low numbers likely to be ordered. It is understood that a clause in the agreement signed today by cities, manufacturers and other parties was removed because of the disagreement over costs.

SMMT

Manufacturers, who are coordinated in the UK by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, are cautious over linking pricing to the global nature of the programme because of the different market situations around the world, uncertainties over the Euro and the levels of subsidy which may be needed to support the development of electric buses.

Speaking at the Summit, Mark Watts from the C40 cities organisation argued that the coming together of the cities over buses sent from the cities “a loud and clear signal to the bus market that they are very willing to move quickly to low emission bus fleets”. Such a move, he suggested, was good for manufacturers as they would be aware of the global demand.

Costs

Air quality and costs were commented on by Sir Peter Hendy, Commisioner at Transport for London. He suggested that TfL was doing more than it might be expected to do. “The air in our city isn’t clean enough and we are playing maybe more than our part to make sure the city is liveable.”

Turning to the costs issues, Sir Peter said that the future developments were only going to be possible if costs were acceptable, “so they are affordable to buy or lease and that operations are affordable.”

A 'green' bus was outside City Hall today

A ‘green’ bus was outside City Hall today

He noted that the buses needed to be affordable on “first-build” and that this would also link in with the provision of lower fares and so help cities grow and create jobs.

Costs of the low emissions vehicles, said Sir Peter, are still too high. “We can’t procure together but the declaration is the next best thing.”

Now, the cities group are striving to try and get some agreements with manufacturers in place for the COP Paris Climate Change meeting in December.

Gunjan Parik, director of transportation initiative at the C40 said: “We very much want to work with manufacturers and funders so we have firm commitments to have substantive announcements to put forward at COP.”

And, Ms Parik claimed that the signatories would be purchasing “40,000 buses between those cities which have signed up by 2020.”

Deployment

A statement from the Greater London Authority after the Summit also took up the theme of trying to secure a reduction in capital costs.

The GLA statement said: “Reductions in capital costs for new technologies like electric and hydrogen buses will be key in achieving their wider deployment.  The clear commitment by more than 24 cities and 10 non-C40 supporting cities to introducing ultra-low emission buses into their fleets will help demonstrate the demand needed to boost supply and affordability.  Working with bus manufacturers to accelerate the roll out of these cutting edge vehicles is a win-win for governments and their citizens, who get to enjoy the benefits of lower carbon and air pollution emissions savings achieved in a cost-effective way.”

 

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6 days ago

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