The total number of fully electric, battery-driven buses delivered for use in public transit in the United States grew in 2017 by 83 percent, with total buses in service reaching 333. Although market penetration remains low at about 0.5 percent of the total U.S. public transit bus market, 9 percent of all transit agencies either have electric buses in service today or have electric buses on order. In 2017, electric bus sales (deliveries) represented over 2 percent of new public transit bus sales (deliveries) in the U.S.
Electric bus manufacturers have signed contractual orders with public transit agencies, generating a backlog that will take over a year to be built, with deliveries to take place in 2018 and beyond. The backlog has grown by 44 percent year to year and now sits at 514 buses, equal to slightly below 10 percent of annual sales (deliveries) of public transit buses in the U.S. This firm order backlog consists primarily of new contracts signed in 2017.
From a state perspective, the primary consumer of electric buses (EBs) in public transit is California. Transit agency commitment to EBs can be viewed as a sum total of buses that have been purchased and are in-service plus buses that have been ordered. California transit agencies have committed to 357 EBs, with the next closest state being Indiana with 52, followed by the state of Washington with 46. Transit agencies in the state of Washington have committed to purchase over 135 electric buses by 2020.
The industry sales leaders remain Proterra and BYD, both of which have recently tripled their manufacturing capacity to keep up with the demand. Proterra’s manufacturing plants are located in Greenville, South Carolina and in the city of Industry (LA) in California. BYD manufactures electric buses in Lancaster, California. New Flyer’s backlog of signed contracts is growing rapidly and all of their manufacturing facilities (Indiana, New York, Minnesota, Alabama and Manitoba, Canada) are now capable of building electric buses.