A hybrid electric bus in London above. These vehicles are now being joined by their purely battery-powered cousins.
The other day, Lloyd worried that electric cars might make it harder to fix our cities. We'd be better off, he argued, going all out to build walkable, bike-friendly cities where the car becomes all but obsolete.
Personally, I'm not sure it's an either/or equation. In my own car-dependent city of Durham, NC for example there is finally talk of light rail moving forward - but that project is at least ten years' away. Given the urgency of tackling climate change, it seems to me that electric vehicles (EVs) will be an important part of the equation—at least in the short- to medium-term.
In London, they're moving ahead with a project that should please all sides of this debate—improving mass transit and advancing battery-electric vehicle technology in the process by launching the city's first purely electric buses. Initially, the vehicles will run two shorter inner city routes and test the technology for future expansion. The city has already taken the lead with hybrid and fuel cell buses, but The Guardian reports that the new electric buses are the first of their kind to run purely off batteries:
According to Chinese manufacturer BYD Auto, the zero-emission buses should reduce running costs by about three quarters compared to a diesel bus and can travel up to 250km (155 miles) on a single four or five hour charge - sufficient to operate for a full day without the need to recharge.
Six further electric buses are set to be introduced into the TfL fleet in early 2014, four of which were secured with funding from the Department of Transport's Green Bus Fund with a further two funded from Transport for London's technology demonstration budget.
In addition to the electric buses, London will be running 1,700 hybrid buses by 2016—covering a fifth of its fleet.