The Corona pandemic has hit the bus industry hard. Manufacturers have had to accept losses, most especially in the coach sector. Despite this setback, the electric bus boom continues. Wim Chatrou has been researching bus registration figures for years and has allowed electrive an exclusive insight into his figures.
The Corona pandemic has hit the bus industry hard – while initially city bus and intercity bus orders kept the balance somewhat in line, and here especially that of newly registered electric buses, the new bus registrations in Germany for January, February and March 2022 show that the figures have not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels – the coach market is missing.
Nevertheless, there is something positive to report: In contrast to coaches, business with scheduled and intercity buses is still going well. “And at a relatively high level,” as Wim Chatrou explains. For 25 years, the Dutchman has been taking a close look at bus registration figures. The documentation of Chatrou CME Solutions is in demand by manufacturers as well as market observers and analysts, electrive was given an exclusive insight into the figures for the 1st quarter of 2022 and thus also into the figures for BEV and fuel cell buses.
In January 2022, 439 buses were newly registered, in February 321 and in March 385, according to the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg, which agrees with Chatrou’s figures and those of the manufacturers. Last year, the figures were slightly higher: 458, 393 and 422 for the first three months of 2021.
If you look at the figures in detail and focus on the alternative drives, you will discover a few novelties: In the case of battery-electric buses, a total of 68 electric buses were newly registered in Germany and a total of 563 in Europe in the 1st quarter of 2021. A comparison of the figures for newly registered battery-electric buses with those of the previous year clearly shows that the boom seems to have no end.
In January, February and March 2022, 134 new BEV buses were registered in Germany, so in the 1st quarter of 2021 there were almost half as many in this segment. But the so-called electric bus boom is not a purely German phenomenon: In the whole of Europe, a whole 843 new vehicles were registered in the 1st quarter of 2022, 280 more than in the same period a year earlier.
More hydrogen buses in Germany, fewer in Europe
While the BEV bus segment is growing, that of hydrogen buses seems to be shrinking: In Q1 2021, two new vehicles were registered in Germany and 50 in Europe. In Q1 there was growth in Germany (10 in total), but across Europe there are only 43 new H2 buses.
Caetano from Portugal registered three H2.City Gold vehicles in Germany in the 1st quarter, Solaris seven Urbino 12 hydrogen. Last year it was only Solaris, the Polish brand under the umbrella of the Spanish CAF Group, that registered two new fuel cell buses in Germany in Q1 2021.
And who will be on the winner’s rostrum of BEV buses in Germany in Q1 2022? The eCitaro from Mercedes-Benz continues to lead the electric bus segment in Germany with a total of 63 new registrations and is still in 1st place.
Daimler Buses was already able to pop the corks in January this year, because of the new battery-electric buses registered in Germany in 2021 at the Federal Motor Transport Authority in Flensburg, a whole 251 bore the star in the front mask. 251 of the 555 new electric buses in Germany in 2021 came from Mercedes-Benz. The German electric bus market grew from 350 to 555 new vehicles compared to the previous year 2020.
Mercedes-Benz with a clear lead in Germany
Will this trend continue? Currently, one would like to think so, as the 63 new eCitaro from Mercedes-Benz in the first quarter of 2022 in Germany are again far ahead of the competition. VDL is in 2nd place with 29 new electric buses in the Citea series, while MAN comes in 3rd with 23 new Lion’s City E electric buses.
At the end of 2021, Mercedes-Benz was ahead of VDL with 251 eCitaro and MAN with 68 new electric bus registrations. The three manufacturers still seem to share the podium in this order.
It remains dymamic in the truest sense of the word which new registrations will be registered in the next three quarters. Currently, the eCitaro from Mercedes-Benz is in the lead. After ten years of intensive market observation and analysis, it is clear to Wim Chatrou that the electric bus business remains a very exciting one: “The manufacturers keep changing places in the individual countries, the top positions in Europe are fiercely contested.”
That there is movement in the game can be seen by looking at Q1 in 2021 and 2022 in comparison: while Ebusco registered six new electric buses in Q1 2021, no new electric buses from the Dutch company appear in Q1 2022. Heuliez or Iveco Bus registered only one new vehicle in Q1 last year, but this year there are already eight electric buses. Volvo Buses had no new electric buses registered in this country in Q1 2021, but this year there were four vehicles. And Irizar also came up trumps in Q1 2021 with 13 electric buses, but in Q1 2022 there is only one.
Besides the big brands, it is sometimes smaller players that trade up and down: Higer-Chariot, Karsan or Rampini were all represented in the statistics in Q1 2021 with BEV vehicles, in Q1 2022 they are absent with their electric buses. The major manufacturers have set their course for this: Daimler Buses made it clear at the eMobility Days in the presence of the Federal Minister of Transport that the diesel era had come to an end: The eCitaro will get a fuel cell as a range extender after the 2nd battery generation, the short eCitaro K will be available from 2024.
And an electrically powered intercity bus will arrive in 2025. An electric drive for coaches will be in the range from 2030. It remains exciting, not only with regard to new registrations in the city bus business and the shares in Germany and Europe.
With reporting by Rüdiger Schreiber, Germany.
Author: Chris Randall