Path to Zero: Successful Projects Show the Way Forward on Vehicle Electrification

The EV then and now: A 1976 CitiCar compared with a 2016 Tesla. Credit: Steve Jurvetson, FlickrCC.

With each passing day more of the world’s governments are adopting EV technologies, and converting car and bus fleets. Their goal is simple: to reduce urban air pollution, while at the same time providing the city with transit flexibility at lower costs – especially when the electric bus costs are compared to the expense of building new light rail or underground metro-systems.

Globally, e-bus sales increased 80-fold between 2011 and 2017, according to the World Resources Institute’s special report published in 2019.

What are the moves being made by two of the world’s leading capital cities, and what lessons can be derived from those moves?

Story 1: Delhi, India’s Capital City, Adopts Its Own Approach

There’s some good news coming from Asia. India’s capital city is moving fast to encourage the growth of their domestic electric vehicles (EVs) sector.

Here are a few highlights of the new moves which have only recently been announced by the elected government which runs the country’s largest city:

-The Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy, 2020 came into effect August 7, 2020 and will be valid for a period of three years.

-The policy subsidizes the purchase of new electric vehicles based on their battery capacity as well as scrapping incentives for old internal combustion engines where applicable.

-Once the system for processing subsidies is established, the subsidy amount will be transferred electronically to the owner’s bank account within seven days.

-The incentives aim to promote greater adoption of EVs among two-wheelers, public transport vehicles, and goods carriers.

India’s seeing the necessity for alternate energy consumption, and a dramatic reduction of emission levels. As India’s large and growing domestic automotive industry opens up to these needs, the EVs segment has received a boost from the government which is currently in control of the country’s capital city.

On August 7, the Delhi government approved the City of Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy, 2020 – and it takes immediate effect. The policy will be in place for a minimum of three years from that date.

The authors of this move say that their objective is to establish “Delhi as the EV capital of India”. These new policies provide direct incentives to kick-start the adoption of EVs across most vehicle categories. This includes two-wheelers, three-wheelers, passenger vehicles, public transport vehicles, and goods carriers. The policies also entail incentives for setting up public and private charging infrastructure; favorable electricity tariffs for energy operators; and measures to stimulate jobs through training and R&D.

The fiscal incentives in these policies will be in addition to those already available in the FAME India Phase-II program launched by the central government – and I’ll provide more details about that in a moment.

What are the key aspects of Delhi’s EV policy? How are they seeking to stimulate the local market demand for EVs?

India’s economy is showing signs of recovery after witnessing major COVID-19 led business disruptions. What are the emerging opportunities and how should investors react?

The goal of the policy is to have battery electric vehicles account for 25 percent of new vehicle registrations in Delhi by 2024. This could significantly reduce pollution levels in the city and bring down emissions from the transport sector.

The policy also promotes measures to support the creation of jobs in driving, selling, financing, servicing, and charging of EVs.

Incentives in the new Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy include the following:

*Financial incentives – includes incentives on purchase, scrapping, and interest subvention on loans;

*Waivers – of road tax and registration fees;

*Infrastructure – establishing a wide network of charging stations and swappable battery stations as well as private charging capacity at homes and workplaces;

*Database – to be made public on the network of stations for EV charging, battery management;

*Regulatory certainty and market viability – by constituting the State Electric Vehicle Board, setting up a dedicated EV cell, and promoting public awareness;

*Job creation – skills development, research, and training related to the EV ecosystem (for example, e-auto and e-cab drivers, charging station operators, and EV service mechanics) as well as developing technology for improving design, usage, and efficiency of EVs; and

*Recycling system – setting up recycling businesses in collaboration with battery and EV manufacturers that focus on ‘urban mining’ of rare materials within the battery for re-use by battery manufacturers.

The Delhi government is offering a subsidy of INR 5,000/kWh (US$68/kWh) or up to INR 150,000 (US$2,043) for the purchase of EV four-wheelers, and INR 30,000 (US$408) for EV two-wheelers. (The current exchange rate is approx.. US$1 = INR 73.42)

The policy also calls for the creation of a “non-lapsable” State EV Fund – to be funded through the air ambience fund, levy of additional taxes, fees, etc. on inefficient or polluting vehicles.

The Delhi Electric Vehicles Policy, 2020 details the incentives available to each category of vehicle based on meeting certain criteria threshold.

For example, electric two-wheelers need to fulfill certain criteria, shown in the table below, for their registered owners to access purchase incentives and apply for incentives for scrapping older vehicle internal combustion engines, among other subsidy measures.

Delhi’s government will also be changing building by-laws so that new homes and workplaces ensure that 20 percent of all vehicle holding capacity/ parking infrastructure is ‘electric vehicle ready’ (that is, with conduits and power supply infrastructure in place for EV chargers). Additionally, the building premises must have an additional power load, equivalent to the power required for all charging points to be operated simultaneously, with a safety factor of 1.25.

Meanwhile, existing residential and non-residential building owners will be encouraged to install private charging points (PCPs) within their premises and provide shared access to EV charging for residents of group housing societies and multi-story apartment complexes. The Delhi government will provide a grant of 100 percent for the purchase of charging equipment up to INR 6,000 (US$82) per charging point for the first 30,000 charging points. Grants shall be available for chargers that are either single phase or three phase input but comply with all other BEVC–AC001 specifications.

The policy aims to establish public charging facilities within 3 km travel from anywhere in Delhi. Energy operators are invited to set up charging and battery swapping stations across Delhi in multiple phases by porting and providing concessional locations for charging station at bare minimum lease rentals. These concessional locations will be carved out from existing public parking zones and other Delhi government-identified locations, such that they offer easy entry and exit. The Delhi government will provide a capital subsidy for the installation cost of chargers and such expenses to the selected EOs. No further capital subsidies can be claimed if the EOs avail this subsidy. 100 percent of the net SGST (state goods and services tax), accrued to the Delhi government, will be provided as reimbursement to the EOs for purchase of advanced batteries to be used at swapping stations.

The National Electric Mobility Mission Plan 2020 (“NEMMP 2020”) provides the vision and roadmap for the faster adoption of electric vehicles and their manufacturing across India. The plan was designed to improve national fuel security, ensure affordable and environmentally friendly transportation, and facilitate manufacturing capacity for the Indian automotive industry.

As part of NEMMP 2020, the Department of Heavy Industry launched in 2015 the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME India), a new program that promotes the manufacturing of electric and hybrid vehicle technology and to ensure sustainable growth of the same.

Initially approved for a period of two years, the scheme has been extended multiple times. Last year, FAME India Phase-II was rolled out, to be implemented over a period of three years with effect from April 1, 2019.

Phase I of the FAME India scheme was implemented through four focus areas namely demand creation, technology platform, pilot projects, and establishing charging infrastructure. In this phase, market creation through demand incentives was aimed at incentivizing all vehicle segments – two-wheelers, three-wheelers, passenger vehicles, light commercial vehicles, and buses. The demand incentive was available to buyers of electric and hybrid vehicles in the form of an upfront reduced purchase price. Further, specific projects under pilot projects, research and development, technology development, and public charging infrastructure components were sanctioned by the Project Implementation and Sanctioning Committee (PISC) for extending grants under the different focus areas of the scheme.

Phase II of the FAME India scheme will mainly focus on supporting electrification of public and shared transportation and aims to support through subsidies for electric buses and electric two-wheelers, three-wheelers, and four-wheelers. The scheme will be applicable mainly to vehicles used for public transport or those registered for commercial purposes. However, private electric two-wheelers will also be covered under the scheme as a mass segment. The creation of charging infrastructure will be supported in selected cities and along major highways.

In January of this year, India’s Department of Heavy Industry sanctioned 2,636 charging stations in 62 cities across 24 states and union territories (UTs) under FAME India Phase II. The public entities will be selected after ensuring the availability of land for charging stations, signing of necessary agreements/MoUs with concerned partner organizations like city municipal corporation, power distribution companies, and oil companies. Subsequently, the respective public entities must initiate the procurement process in a time bound manner for establishing the sanctioned charging stations.

On April 27, 2020, the validity of FAME-II certificates issued for one year from April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020 – for all EV models (e2W, e-3W, and e-4W) – were extended to June 30, 2020 — due to the disruption caused to the market by the coronavirus outbreak.

Part 2: How Santiago Reduced Transaction Costs When Procuring Electric Buses: 455 EVs, for US$136.5 million

An ambitious e-bus project was launched in Chile’s capital city of Santiago. In this case the purchasing power of a major city is being leveraged to enact meaningful change through the use of green bulk public procurement.

City-level bulk procurement and PPPs can reduce transaction costs and catalyze private investment and manufacturing. For example, in the past few years, Santiago, Chile, has procured an impressive 455 e-bus and now has the largest city fleet outside of China (according to CleanTechnica’s report in 2020). It was achieved through a bulk procurement process, expanded over several years, combined with an innovative financial model under which electricity suppliers Enel and Engie acquired the buses from Chinese manufacturers BYD and Zhengzhou Yutong, leased them to the local operators, installed charging stations, and supply electricity (according to Azzopardi’s report in 2020).

The first e-bus was piloted in 2016, providing free transit for locals and visitors in the city center until the end of 2017. In 2017, Enel X acquired an additional 100 e-buses from BYD. A combination of a grid capacity analysis (utility company), pilot test (operator), route selection analysis (consulting institute), and determination of business and service models (with the manufacturer) were conducted jointly (according to Orbea in 2018), giving local stakeholders confidence and enabling them to prepare, which led to ambitious adoption targets (according to WRI in 2019). In 2018 and 2019, an additional 300 e-buses were added to the fleet.

E-buses are helping the city reduce operating and maintenance costs significantly (70 percent lower than for diesel-powered units). At approximately $300,000 each, electric buses cost almost twice

as much as conventional buses, but the savings in operating and maintenance costs are huge, potentially allowing fare reductions. At current power prices in Santiago, they cost just $0.10 per kilometer, against more than $0.35 per kilometer for diesel buses.

Furthermore, the fleet generates no tailpipe emissions, which is helping the city reduce air pollution, which is costly to the economy in terms of productivity and human health. E-buses are also increasing the attractiveness of ridership thanks to air conditioning; better design; and a smoother, quieter rider experience than with the old buses. With happier customers, operators report less bus fare avoidance, and none of the e-buses were torched during the recent riots.

With this positive model, Chile’s transport minister, Gloria Hutt, has launched a tender to replace more than 2,000 buses in Santiago, with electric vehicles being prioritized. Although the tender is open to

conventional diesel buses and natural gas and hybrid alternatives, the government is encouraging operators to prioritize e-buses by offering them 14-year contracts rather than the 10-year deals offered for other technologies. The conversion to e-buses in Chile may have started in Santiago, but similar plans are in place across the country in major cities such as Antofagasta, Valparaiso, Concepcion, and Temuco. Not surprisingly, President Sebastian Piñera has set ambitious targets of having 10 times as many electric vehicles (of all kinds) on Chile’s roads by 2022 and replacing all the country’s buses with e-buses by 2040.

Bus procurement models should consider total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the investment, rather than just upfront cost, and include a mechanism to manage the risks and uncertainties of e-buses as a new technology, such as financial leasing and operational leasing mechanisms in the case of Santiago. Financial leasing mechanisms can reduce costs for bus operators, which do not need to pay the up-front cost and have the flexibility to procure the asset at the end of the leasing period. Operators make regular payments to lessors, and lessors might receive a tax benefit if the buses

are recorded as an asset on their balance sheets, instead of on those of the operators (according to WRI in 2019).

The case of Santiago e-buses shows the power of green bulk procurement. Globally, public procurement accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of global GDP, much of which is from cities. This represents a huge degree of purchasing power. Procurement modeling and decisions can significantly affect the market and encourage provision of sustainable, resilient goods and services. Cities are driving new technologies and solutions by providing an invaluable launch market and helping suppliers achieve economies of scale (according to the IFC in 2017).

ENEL moves into this field

Although most everyone doesn’t know it, the fact is that ENEL, the large multi-billion dollar Italian-based energy company, is a major player in Chile’s e-bus market. Their first step came in 2016, with a joint initiative that enabled Enel to team up with the Santiago City Government to implement Chile’s first electric bus. The focus was providing free transit for locals and visitors, focused on the city center. The free bus ran until the end of 2017. In August 2018 the bus was moved to the city of Concepción, again providing service free of charge to passengers.

These experiences laid the groundwork for Enel X, together with the Government of Chile and MetBus, to launch a project for “Electric Buses on the Av. Grecia Route”.

Enel X acquired a total of 100 electric buses from Chinese manufacturer BYD; the units will be operated permanently by the company MetBus on its Route 516, joining the much-vaunted electrical route on Av. Grecia in Santiago, Chile.

They have zero impact on pollutant emissions, and also provide a cheaper option in terms of operating costs, which are up to 70% lower than diesel-powered units. The new electric buses cost 70 Chilean pesos per kilometer traveled, while traditional buses run at around 300 pesos per kilometer.

Another important advantage for users is the lower noise level, both within the bus and externally, making is a responsible option for transit through heavily populated areas.

The new buses were designed based on experience from the users and passengers of the first two units. They arrived in 2017 and were operated on Route 516 by MetBus, leading to a number of improvements that enhance safety factors. This major step, and the model used to make the first 100 buses viable, has made Chile a benchmark for electric transport in Latin America, with a formula that could be replicated in other countries.

November 2017 saw the official incorporation of the first two electric buses into Santiago’s urban mass transport fleet. The vehicles were acquired by Enel and operated by MetBus, in a groundbreaking partnership for the country.

Fieldwork studies found that the features that users valued most highly were the air conditioning and quieter transit offered by the electric buses. This also encouraged passengers to care for the vehicles they travel in, with only a few minor scratches to the interior of the units. Meanwhile, their entry into the traffic system has helped to reduce fare evasion, showing an advance in the country’s transport system.

Electrical transport came to Chile hand-in-hand with Enel X; silent, air-conditioned buses move through the city’s streets, producing no air pollution and offering its passengers Wi-Fi, chargers, and a ride in comfort. This is no longer just a dream. Thousands of bus passengers have enjoyed these benefits each day, traveling on Latin America’s first ever electrical bus route: Av. Grecia, Santiago, Chile.

This initiative has been growing, with 100 buses to be deployed through an alliance between Enel X, MetBus, and BYD, providing Santiago with the continent’s first electrical public transport system to operate so many units. The goal of this revolutionary program is to reduce carbon emissions in Santiago and improve quality of life for millions of people.

This bus revolution is not only changing Santiago’s streets. These new electric vehicles have required the implementation of new services and sites, with a fresh image that puts the city at the forefront of technology and innovation throughout South America.

The first smart stop has already been opened in Pudahuel district: it features new technologies to prevent fare evasion, panels showing information on when buses are estimated to arrive, cameras that compile information on journeys, a transport card charging plinth, and a pilot biometric customer recognition system.

Peñalolén and Maipú have been given a new lease of life with their electronic terminals, replacing aging bus terminals and offering open, clean, and comfortable spaces where drivers can take a break and recharge the batteries of their buses. The total investment on the terminals amounted to some $5 million.

“We are putting our efforts firmly behind electric transport, based on energy technology that is clean, efficient, and cheaper than other fuels. Electrical transport is a system for the present and the future, showcasing its applicability, competitiveness, and potential to handle mass transit in Chile, offering users an economical option and reducing urban pollution”, explains Enel X Chile manager Karla Zapata.

Calculations show that over 250,000 journeys have now been made using the new electric buses, in districts like Lo Prado, Estación Central, Santiago, Ñuñoa, Peñalolén, and Providencia. They notice, value, and praise the advantages of this zero-emissions transport method that has changed how people get around in Chile’s capital city.

The experience of traveling aboard an electric bus is nothing like the uncomfortable micros of old: users have certainly shown how much they like the new standard. Fare evasion has also dropped: the new buses show charge card validation rates 20% higher than normal buses, and passengers take better care of them.

The benefits were so outstanding that the government has announced plans to replace all buses in Santiago with electric models, acquiring some 6,500 units by 2050 – and Enel X has the capacity to implement the electrical infrastructure necessary to power a mass transit fleet, both in the capital and in other Chilean regions, stated Karla Zapata, the manager of Enel X.


Government agencies and private companies both have many opportunities to reduce the impact of their operations through sustainable procurement, also known as “environmentally preferable purchasing”. By purchasing environmentally-preferable goods and services, governments (and also businesses) can reduce the impact of their operations. In addition, they can influence manufacturers and vendors to offer goods and services that are safer and more climate friendly. Cooperative purchasing offers agencies the opportunity to save money through bulk purchasing and lower procurement-related costs for green products.

In their 2019 report on “Curbing Carbon from Consumption: The Role of Green Public Procurement”, the non-profit ClimateWorks Foundation argues the following: “Because public entities exercise large-scale purchasing power in contracts for goods, services, and construction of infrastructure, policies prioritizing environmentally and socially responsible purchasing can drive markets in the direction of sustainability. In fact, public procurement accounts for an average of 12 percent of GDP in OECD countries, and up to 30 percent of GDP in many developing countries. Significant GHG emissions are attributable to products and services that are commonly procured by governments, for example, large infrastructure such as roads, buildings and railways; public transport; and energy.”

This bus world is changing rapidly, moving ever further towards electric solutions. However, there are still some myths and questions to be answered about this sustainable technology.

What are the three areas of lasting advantage which an e-bus brings to a city transit system?


– Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move away from the carbon economy, thereby reducing urban pollution and enhancing quality of life.


– Recharge an EV on the street, or at the bus depot, or at the service/maintenance center.

*Economic savings.

– Reduced parts and maintenance costs. Free access to restricted areas and free parking in car parks.

The  Inter-American Development Bank argues in their own “Green Procurement” report in 2018 that green procurement can be defined “as the acquisition of goods, works, services or consultancies whose results have the least possible harmful effects on the environment, human health and safety when compared to other competing and similar acquisitions, or those that make a positive impact on the environment.”

Various multilateral financing organizations, international organizations and countries have joined the global effort to promote green procurement. This strategic focus, via procurement, seeks to increase efficiency with the least possible environmental footprint, while producing energy and even financial savings.

The incorporation of environmental criteria and requirements for the procurement of goods, works, services and consultancies, does not necessarily mean higher costs, but rather a change in perspective, in which an investment may be more efficient in the medium-term, creating win-win situations for countries.

Story 3: San Francisco Makes Moves

In May 2018, the City of San Francisco’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (SFMTA) announced its commitment to having an all-electric bus fleet by 2035.

Starting in early October of this year, the SFMTA will take a big leap forward in implementing its own Sustainability and Climate Action Program by installing nine new charging stations at Muni Woods Division to power the agency’s first battery electric buses after significant progress in battery technology in recent years.

The project will kick off the pilot program to determine the SFMTA’s future charging methods for new zero-emission e-buses.

To find out if battery-powered e-bus technology is ready for San Francisco, the SFMTA has been implementing an 18-month battery e-bus pilot program. The SFMTA will procure three 40-foot buses each from three different manufacturers to test their performance in revenue service for 18 months. The first three battery electric buses are expected to arrive in spring 2021 as part of the pilot program.

Questions remain about whether battery e-buses can handle San Francisco’s heavy transit ridership and hilly routes. Before deploying battery e-buses, they must deliver the same reliability and service as our current hybrid-electric and electric trolley bus fleets.

As of 2018, 45 percent of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions are generated by the transportation sector which is heavily reliant on carbon-intensive fossil fuels. This reliance on harmful fossil fuels is changing the earth’s climate and contributes to extreme weather events, increased fire risk and sea level rise. The SFMTA is a leader in providing safe and sustainable transportation options as it continues to implement its Sustainability and Climate Action Program.

The SFMTA’s energy-efficient Muni fleet of buses actually contribute less than two percent of the transportation sector’s emissions. Pre-pandemic, they moved approximately 700,000 people every day. Today, the SFMTA operates the greenest transit system of any major city in North America.

The San Francisco city government’s Electric Bus Pilot Program is an ambitious response to climate change and air quality challenges. The transportation sector’s reliance on fossil fuels makes the sector the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and criteria air pollutants. Along with mode shift away from single occupancy vehicles towards transit, walking and bicycling, strategic electrification of the transportation sector has the potential to reduce harmful emissions and air pollution. Achievement of these reductions depends, in part, on the electrification of private vehicles by establishing electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure network that is responsive to current and future demands, ensures consistency with key policies such as Transit First and public health and safety policies while providing equitable access across the city.

The vision for electric mobility projects is simple— help to advance San Francisco’s vision of excellent transportation choices and mission to connect San Francisco through a safe, equitable, and sustainable transportation system. Ideally, electric mobility projects will include collaboration opportunities to support a diversity of mobility options— particularly those that do not induce or generate new vehicle miles, prioritize equitable access, complement sustainable modes of travel, integrate with facilities uses and demands, and enhance public safety and security.

The city-owned and city-managed off-street parking facilities are thought to be well-suited to support the expansion of electric mobility across San Francisco.

The installation of the new chargers will take approximately nine months to complete. In addition to the battery-electric bus chargers, the updated infrastructure includes electrical support equipment, such as switchgear, switchboard, transformers, power cabinets and conduit.

Installing these chargers is the first step in making the greenest transit fleet in North America even more environmentally sustainable. Battery electric buses will further reduce harmful emissions and air pollution.

The earth’s climate system is changing in profound ways as result of our reliance of harmful fossil fuels. Today, the majority of San Francisco’s greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants are generated by the transportation sector which is reliant on carbon intensive fossil fuels.

The SFMTA is a leader in providing sustainable transportation options for residents and visitors. While the city’s transportation sector contributes approximately 46 percent of San Francisco’s overall emissions, the SFMTA’s energy-efficient transit fleet that includes all electric trolley buses contributes less than two percent of the sector’s emissions. Throughout the agency’s history, SFMTA has consistently pursued and implemented the latest in green transportation technologies. Today, the SFMTA operates the greenest transit system of any major city in North America.

In order to reduce emissions to meet the city’s climate goals, a transformation of the broader transportation sector is required in the years ahead. Broadly speaking, this means two main things:

  1. Sustainable modes of transportation, such as public transit, biking, and walking must be prioritized by making these options attractive and safe.
  2. All remaining vehicles need to be powered by renewable energy which generate significantly fewer emissions and harmful pollution.

The Transportation Sector Climate Action Strategy contains near term and long-term strategies in two program areas (Climate Mitigation and Climate Adaptation) to be implemented in the years ahead. The 2020 Climate Action Strategy, which is being developed, will contain updated strategies to reduce emissions in the coming years. These actions are not only critical to climate action but can also help to build a healthy, resilient and equitable city by:

-Improving public health through the reduction of harmful air pollutants by prioritizing transit and active transportation modes;

-Reducing economic costs associated with congestion;

-Improving safety for all consistent with the city’s Vision Zero policy;

-Promoting dense, affordable and environmentally sustainable development;

-Providing safe, reliable, efficient and affordable transit for all;

-Building a more resilient transportation system in the face of a changing climate system;

-Climate Mitigation Program Areas. Seven cross-cutting program areas have been identified where investments must be made to help alleviate the transportation sectors impact on climate change. Building dense affordable housing, ensuring emerging mobility services support climate goals, designing streets to encourage biking, walking and transit, investing in making transit more effective, programing to shift trips to sustainable modes, implement pricing and congestion management plans, and building infrastructure for zero emissions vehicles will benefit San Francisco and help reduce our emissions.

The SF City’s Climate Action Strategy lays out five areas the SFMTA can use to increase the resiliency of San Francisco’s transportation system by managing the risks posed by the impacts of climate change. These efforts include assessing the vulnerability of the transportation system to sea level rise, integrating climate risk and resiliency in capital planning, and developing and integrating adaptation into transportation plans, projects and operations.

SF City’s Climate Goals are numerous, but there are 3 priority goals:

Goal 1. The 2018 Strategic Plan establishes SFMTA’s vision for a city of excellent transportation choices and mission to connect San Francisco through a safe, equitable and sustainable transportation system.

Goal 2. Make transit and other sustainable modes of transportation the most attractive and preferred means of travel and

Goal 3: Improve the quality of life and environment in San Francisco and for the region further highlight the agencies commitment to its multi-modal transportation system.

SF City’s Climate Targets: The San Francisco Climate Action Strategy commits the city to significantly reduce resource consumption and harmful emissions. The 0-80-100 Roots Framework is the city’s call to action—committing to zero waste by 2020, shifting 80% of trips to sustainable trips by 2030, moving 100% of energy to renewables by 2030, and supporting and protecting our urban green spaces and promoting biodiversity. Additionally, San Francisco has made strong commitments, striving to be carbon neutral by 2050.

As a leader in providing sustainable transportation options, SFMTA is well positioned to meet the City’s ambitious climate action goals. In 2017, San Francisco met and surpassed its interim mode shift goal of 50%, setting its sights for a more aggressive mid-century goal of 80%. It is critical that San Francisco continues to invest in transit, walking and bike to ensure it meets future climate action targets of 80% of trips taken in sustainable modes by 2030 and 80% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 Levels by 2050.

Emissions Trends – The transportation sector’s reliance on fossil fuels makes the sector the city’s largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and criteria air pollutants. As of 2017, transportation sector emissions are approximately 45 percent of citywide emissions. The vast majority of the emissions from the transportation sector emissions, 71 percent, are generated by the fossil fuels used to fuel the sector’s cars, trucks and other private vehicles. Muni is the cornerstone of San Francisco’s environmentally friendly and sustainable transportation options, making up only 1 percent of transportation related emissions citywide.

When it was adopted in 2013, the “San Francisco Climate Action Strategy” called for shifting 50 percent of trips to non-automobile trips by 2017 and 80 percent by 2030. Based on the “2017 Travel Decision Survey”, the city has realized the 2017 mode share goal as 52 percent of trips were non-automobile trips (transit, walk and bicycle) and 48 percent of trips were automobiles trips (drive alone, carpool and TNCs such as Uber and Lyft).

In our ongoing effort to bring you the most state-of-the-art Muni fleet, the SFMTA is replacing aging vehicles with low-floor biodiesel-powered electric hybrid buses and New Flyer Industries electric trolley. The new hybrids run on B20: a blend of diesel and biodiesel, which is made from recycled oil and fat.

The Mayor said that “new 21st century buses are the very cornerstone of San Francisco’s Transit-First policy, making sure Muni is reliable, affordable and safe for our riders”. “The purchase of a new state-of-the-art fleet of electric trolley and hybrid buses, which reduce or eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, helps San Francisco lead the way to a sustainable future. By offering real solutions to fighting climate change, we can meet the needs of our thriving economy and growing population.”

The overhaul of Muni’s bus fleet is made possible by a combination of funding. The biodiesel hybrid bus funds include but are not limited to: Federal Transit Administration grants, AB644 bridge tolls, Proposition K and Proposition B funds. The e-trolley bus purchase is backed by funds from the US Federal government, California State government, a ballot initiative which passed (aka, Proposition K), and other local support.

Muni now has one of the most diverse transit fleets in the world and is also the cleanest multimodal fleet in California.

Story 4: Electrifying Canada’s national government light duty vehicle fleet

One of Canada’s largest Federal agencies, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), declared some years ago that it was “committed to improving the quality of life of Canadians by ensuring the country’s abundant natural resources are developed sustainably, competitively and inclusively.” In November 2016, Canada joined seven other nations (China, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the USA) by signing on to the Government Fleet Declaration. This was organized under the auspices of what came to be known as The Clean Energy Ministerial – Electric Vehicle Initiative, and each of the participating national governments publicly committed to deploy greater numbers of EVs in government fleets.

As part of the government of Canada’s “Greening Government Strategy” a sharp focus was put on reducing emissions from government fleets. The NRCan team was tasked with identifying which government fleet vehicles were best suited for switching to an electric vehicle (EV).

NRCan needed to complete a thorough examination of all government fleet vehicles in order to understand the variables associated with switching to EVs. They had to take into account the return on investment following a higher upfront financial investment in EVs. But they also had to account for variables like the impact on range in areas of the country where the extreme weather is more common, as well as the varying range requirements for the different types of government vehicles in question.

Navigating this type of complex transition can make it difficult to know where to start, but with Geotab’s unique Electric Vehicle Suitability Assessment (EVSA), NRCan was able to begin the process of determining which fleet vehicles were best suited to switch to EVs. A series of EVSAs were performed for NRCan to identify the necessary adjustments to the existing fleet and determine the various benefits associated with electrification.

These EVSAs were instrumental to NRCan’s success because each study provided one of the key elements for success:

– A detailed account of daily vehicle usage via remote data collection

– An understanding of how various EV models would service existing driving cycles

– Operational cost savings by EV model

– Best available options for EV models to match requirements

– Total cost, cost savings, and ROI for each vehicle and for total fleet

– A forecast of the total decrease in fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions

The EVSAs simplified the effort and involvement from fleet managers, sustainability professionals and senior executives by delivering reliable data analysis to assist with operational decision-making.

Armed with the results of their EVSAs, NRCan is ready to take the steps necessary to electrify its fleets. The information provided by the completed EVSA provides NRCan with accurate data to identify the specific fleet vehicles best suited to transition to EVs, and reliably predicts the ROI on the associated upfront investment.

NRCan initially analyzed 270 light-duty vehicles consisting of sedans, SUVs and trucks. Of those 270, 157 vehicles were identified as suitable for replacement with lower-carbon alternatives. The reports identified opportunities, that if fully implemented would result in:

-A potential savings of $1.3M across the lifetime of the new fleet

-A reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 30%

After completing the initial EVSA, NRCan continues to see the value of telematics data in gathering fleet performance data and performing additional EVSAs. Including the initial EVSA, 1,237 vehicles across 7 different agencies were analyzed. This analysis illustrated the potential to achieve the following results:

Annual CO2 reduction of 1,200 metric tons

Annual fuel reduction of 536,000 liters

$4.85 million in “total cost of ownership”* savings, averaging 13.7% savings per fleet

(*Over the typical seven-year vehicle lifecycle).

According to Yves Madore, NRCan’s Senior Officer for Transportation and Alternative Fuels, “the EVSA was a very valuable exercise. Thanks to the analysis, departments have more confidence in acquiring EVs.”

Story 5: The US Tiptoes towards EV-Buses

Even during the time when the Trump White House is clearly not particular enthused about clean energy, the U.S. Department of Transportation is still spending time and money on the challenges facing the EV industry. DOT’s Federal Transit Administration (FTA) supports the research, development, and demonstration of low- and zero- emission technology for transit buses. Research projects are funded with a goal of facilitating commercialization of advanced technologies for transit buses that will increase efficiency and improve transit operations. FTA is collaborating with the U.S. Federal Government’s Department of Energy (DOE) and DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to conduct in-service evaluations of advanced technology buses developed under its programs.

For more than a decade, NREL has been evaluating advanced technology transit buses (including advanced technologies deployed under the FTA programs). NREL has been using a standard data collection and analysis protocol originally developed for DOE heavy-duty vehicle evaluations.

FTA has been seeking to assess the results from all of the new technologies which are being adopted by transit agencies. The evaluations being examined by and for FTA include fuel-cell electric buses (FCEBs) and battery electric buses (BEBs) from different manufacturers operating in fleets in both cold and hot climates. A new FTA report, “Zero-Emission Bus Evaluation Results: Long Beach Transit Battery Electric Buses”, presents the results from NREL’s evaluation of 10 BEBs operated by Long Beach Transit (LBT) in the city of Long Beach in California.

LBT’s BEBs are 40-ft BYD buses with a ferro-type lithium iron phosphate energy storage system (ESS) also produced by BYD. NREL is collecting data on a conventional fleet of eight Gillig compressed natural gas (CNG) buses of similar age as the primary baseline comparison. LBT operates the BEBs primarily on its Passport route, a free shuttle service that travels around the Waterfront area between the Queen Mary and downtown Long Beach. The agency installed 10 plug in chargers for overnight charging of the BEBs, which is the primary means of charging the buses, although the agency also installed an inductive charging station at one of the stops on the Passport route.

The BEBs averaged 1,344 monthly miles per bus, which is lower than the baseline CNG bus fleet average of 3,285 monthly miles per bus. This is a direct result of the planned operation of the bus fleets, so this difference was expected. LBT’s target mileage for the BEB fleet operating on the Passport route was 7,500 miles per month or 90,000 fleet miles per year. The fleet far exceeded that, accumulating more than 13,400 miles per month, on average.

The availability data presented are based on both morning and afternoon pull- out. Buses available for both pull-outs received credit for one day available; if a bus was available for morning pull-out but not afternoon pull-out, that day counted as 0.5 available. The overall average availability for the BEBs was 70.9%; CNG fleet availability was 89.9%. LBT purchased the fleet of 10 BEBs to electrify transit service on the Passport route, which does not require the entire fleet.

In addition to tracking the daily availability of each BEB, NREL evaluated the effectiveness of the BEB fleet at fulfilling scheduled service on the Passport route. The monthly percentage of the Passport route service electrified by the BEB fleet ranged from a minimum of 51.5% in June 2018 to a maximum of 90.5% in September 2018. The average was 78.6% for the evaluation period.

The fuel economy for the BEB fleet on the Passport route varied seasonally, from a maximum of 23.6 miles per diesel gallon equivalent (mpdge) in March 2018 to a minimum of 18.4 mpdge in September 2018. The fuel economy for the CNG fleet was very consistent throughout the year, averaging 3.49 mpdge in random- dispatch service, equivalent to 3.26 mpdge on the Passport route. The average for the BEB fleet was 5.9 times that of the randomly-dispatched CNG buses and 6.3 times the CNG buses in service on the slower-speed Passport route.

The BEBs typically are charged overnight at the depot. The average overall electricity price during the evaluation period (based on utility billing periods) was $0.264 per kWh, including demand charges. This is equivalent to approximately $10 per diesel gallon equivalent (dge), which is 6.6 times the average CNG price of $1.52 per dge. The corresponding fuel cost per mile for each fleet was $0.61 per mile for the BEBs and $0.43 per mile for the CNG fleet.

Maintenance costs for both fleets include overall cost per mile and cost per mile by vehicle system. Warranty costs are not included in the calculations. During the evaluation period, the BEBs were under warranty, and the CNG buses were not. The maintenance cost for the BEBs ($0.44 per mile) was 19% lower than for the CNG buses ($0.54 per mile). The total propulsion-related maintenance cost for the BEBs was 73% lower than for the CNG buses; this is influenced by the respective warranty periods for the bus fleets.

As with all new technology development, lessons learned during this project could aid other agencies considering BEB technology. One of NREL’s goals for advanced technology vehicle evaluation is to document the experience of early-adopter transit agencies and share critical lessons learned with the rest of the industry to increase the successful deployment of these vehicles elsewhere in similar service. LBT reported having a good relationship with BYD and that the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has worked closely with the agency to identify and solve the early issues with the buses. Key lessons learned include the following:

  • Assemble an effective project team. LBT reported that a good project team leads to a better product collectively. This project could not have progressed without the commitment of each member of the team working for a successful deployment of BEBs and continual improvement.
  • Expect growing pains with new technologies. LBT experienced challenges in implementing the new technology from an OEM that was new to the U.S. market and in the process of completing its new bus manufacturing facility. The team encountered more issues than expected at the initial deployment, including with bus components such as doors and the wheelchair lift. Although these components are not part of the advanced technology, the time needed to solve the issues delayed deployment of the affected buses.
  • Plan for sufficient training. LBT reported that there was a steep learning curve for implementing a new technology bus. Some of the agency’s early challenges arose from maintaining the buses. The necessary skill set did not exist at the agency at the time of initial deployment. An agency needs to ensure that enough time is planned for the OEM to train staff in maintaining the buses.
  • Begin planning infrastructure early in the project. Completing installation of needed BEB charging infrastructure by the time the buses are delivered can be a balancing act. An agency needs to begin planning early in the process and anticipate potential issues that could delay the installation.

The DOT’s FTA supports the research, development, and demonstration of low- and zero-emission technology for transit buses. FTA funds projects with a goal of facilitating commercialization of advanced technologies for transit buses that will increase efficiency and improve transit operations. These programs include the following:

  • National Fuel Cell Bus Program – a $180 million, multi-year, cost-share research program for developing and demonstrating commercially-viable fuel cell technology for transit buses
  • Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction (TIGGER) – $225 million for capital investments that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and/or lower the energy use of public transportation systems
  • Low or No Emission Vehicle Deployment Program – $486.36 million in funding (Fiscal Years 2013–2020) to transit agencies for capital purchases of zero- and low-emission transit buses that have been largely proven in testing and demonstration efforts but are not yet widely deployed.

FTA recognized the need to share early experience with advanced technologies with the transit industry and funded evaluations of a selection of these projects to provide comprehensive, unbiased performance results from advanced technology bus development, operations, and implementation.

These evaluations proved useful for a variety of groups, including transit operators considering the technology for future procurements, manufacturers needing to understand the status of the technology for transit applications, and government agencies making policy decisions or determining future research needs. These evaluations included many dimensions:  economic, performance, and safety factors. Data were collected on the operation, maintenance, and performance of each advanced technology fleet and a comparable baseline fleet operating at the same site.

Funding for these evaluations has come from several agencies, including FTA, DOE, and the State of California’s Air Resources Board.

A new U.S. research study provides a “Financial Analysis of Battery Electric Transit Buses”. The report was authored by a team working at the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory. NREL is one of the primary national laboratories of the U.S. Federal government’s Department of Energy.

The new report argues that transit buses are well positioned to be the next heavy-duty vehicle market segment to significantly electrify. However, most fleet managers will only purchase battery electric buses (BEBs) if they are cost-effective when compared to traditional diesel buses over their lifetime. In this report, this comparison is done through the Vehicle and Infrastructure Cash-Flow Evaluation for BEB (VICE-BEB) model.

This model determines the net present value (NPV) and the payback period for investment in BEBs and charging infrastructure. Numerous economic analyses have been done for specific fleets, but this analysis strives to help all transit bus fleets determine if BEBs would be cost-effective. It does this by establishing a baseline fleet with typical or average values for the parameters of interest and then addressing variations to these parameters in a simplified way that allows specific fleets to place themselves on a spectrum based on key parameters.

The baseline fleet was determined through an extensive literature search and fleet survey. The baseline scenario invested in four BEBs and four depot chargers, received a grant of $1,500,000 (or $375,000 per bus with charger), and saw an NPV of $785,000 over the 12-year bus life. When determining if BEB investment would be cost-effective (meaning lower total cost of ownership than diesel bus), fleet managers and grant administrators need to know which fleet parameters to prioritize. The most important parameters are the ones that are highly influential to NPV and highly volatile. The relative influence of parameters was determined by independently swinging 33 key VICE-BEB inputs ±50% and recording the corresponding swing in project NPV. The volatility of each parameter was determined by dividing the range of inputs found in a literature search by the baseline value.

Knowing the trends in variance can help a fleet determine beforehand if a BEB investment is likely to be cost-effective for them. There are also a number of choices a fleet can make in order to make these parameters more favorable. Choosing between a fast and depot charger is implicated in many of these parameters, and charger power, electricity demand charges, and facility electric load patterns need to be considered when making this decision. BEB range is an intermediary factor that is impacted by important parameters (e.g., battery size, efficiency, duty cycle, temperature) and impacts important parameters (e.g., number of chargers and BEBs).

This new report serves as a first screen to determine which fleets may be the most suitable for BEB investment. Next steps could include fleet-specific modeling with VICE-BEB; route profiling to help determine the real-world BEB efficiency, range, and equipment requirements; and discussions with the electric utility to determine if their rate structure and contract can be conducive to cost effective BEB projects.

NREL sits within the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. NREL is operated by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy. The Alliance is a limited liability company (LLC) co-managed and governed by Battelle and MRIGlobal. As NREL’s management and operating contractor , the Alliance’s role spans across four areas: strategy, leadership, stewardship, and engagement.

NREL is governed by a Board of Directors consisting of five executives each from MRIGlobal and Battelle, and one each from the following five universities: the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Colorado School of Mines, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Stanford University.

The report was authored by Caley Johnson, Erin Nobler, Leslie Eudy, and Matthew Jeffers. All of them work at NREL. NREL is headquartered in Golden, Colorado. It has approximately 2685 employees, postdoctoral researchers, interns, visiting professionals, and subcontractors