There is a ton of hype around electric cars right now, for understandable reasons. Several snazzy new models have been released recently, range continues improving, and ambitious cities are pledging to get rid of gas and diesel cars altogether. It’s a heady time.
But here’s a little appreciated fact: Personal vehicles are probably the most challenging to electrify cost-effectively. (Dragging one or two passengers around over long distances in a 2-ton vehicle takes a lot of energy.) The case for electrification is actually stronger for other types of vehicles.
At the top of the list: buses! City transit buses are ideal candidates for electrification.
For one thing, the world is rapidly urbanizing and particulate pollution — especially from diesel, the fuel of choice for older buses — is increasingly seen as a health crisis. Old buses drive around the city all day, at low speeds, spewing diesel smoke directly into urbanites’ faces, leading to countless illnesses and early deaths. (Diesel smoke is a big contributor to the 6.5 million deaths a year caused by air pollution.)
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