Buses reinvented

Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx



The bus that powers itself and has no battery? You can buy that on Alibaba. It is made by Nanowinn Technologies of China and it only works in daylight using its state-of-the-art copper indium gallium diselenide solar panels and super-efficient traction motor. Call it a lizard electric vehicle, waking with the sun. It only carries eight people and manages walking speed but, hey, here is the future. It is always laughable first time round. In Uganda, under the cooking sun, there are already large pure electric buses that get a high proportion of their energy from solar panels on the roof. See the IDTechEx Research report, Electric Buses 2016-2026.

A bus that straddles the traffic? Being trialled in China and the next version will carry one thousand people and have so much solar area that 20kW from daylight is in prospect. Time to stop laughing. In 2050, 80% of people will live in cities. Cars will be banned. Indeed, we shall reach peak car around 2030 as one autonomous taxi or bus replaces a large number of private cars, with city managers increasingly discouraging cars by repurposing car parks and imposing swinging congestion charges.

The autonomous bus is interesting. The hardware will be rapidly commoditised but a large software and systems business results as it transmogrifies into something very different. Perhaps there will be combines taxi-buses but do not call them taxis or the government will get the wrong idea. These may run routes except when they are not needed in this mode when they could be taxis under voice command so even the young and the disabled can go anywhere as needed and keep tapping that wretched phone as social media turns us all into zombies. From China to Canada and New Zealand, young people are losing any interest in car ownership as a status symbol and convenience.

Electric Buses 2016-2026