Do ‘green’ buses pass the performance test?

Do they even pass basic energy, environmental, economic and human rights tests?

Guest post Duggan Flanakin

Should Americans follow China in a massive commitment to supposedly eco-friendly battery-electric buses (BEBs)? California has mandated a “carbon-free” bus system by 2040 and will buy only battery or fuel cell-powered buses after 2029. Other states and cities are following suit.

Vehicle decisions are typically based on cost and performance. Cost includes selling price plus maintenance, while performance now includes perceived environmental impacts – which for some is the only issue that matters. But that perception ignores some huge ecological (and human rights) issues.

China today has 420,000 BEBs on the road, with plans to reach 600,000 by 2025. The rest of the world has maybe 5,000 of these expensive, short-range buses. However, the Chinese still get 70% of their energy from coal, so are their BEBs really that green? Are they safe? And are they really ethical?

Battery costs are the main reason BEBs today are much more expensive than buses that run on diesel or compressed natural gas. But bus makers say electric buses require less maintenance, and climate activists say the lower net “carbon footprint” (carbon dioxide emissions) justifies paying a little more.

China gets around the up-front cost problem by establishing national mandates, heavily subsidizing bus (and battery) manufacturers, and rewarding cities that replace entire bus fleets at one time. This ensures that their factories benefit from economies of scale – and that the transition will be swift and complete.

Beijing simply dodges the environmental costs by ignoring the fossil fuels, horrific pollution and human illnesses involved in mining, ore processing and manufacturing processes associated with building the buses. California and other “renewable” energy advocates do likewise. In fact, those costs will skyrocket as China, California and the world emphasize electric vehicle, wind, solar and battery technologies.

Meanwhile, the USA and EU nations focus on subsidizing passenger cars. Thus, there are far more zero-emission passenger cars on the road today in the U.S. and Europe than public transit vehicles. No wonder Westerners still view electric vehicles as subsidized luxuries for the “woke wealthy,” who boast about lowering their carbon footprint, despite also often needing fossil fuel electricity to charge batteries.

The huge costs for fast-charging stations across Europe, let alone the vast United States, pose more huge challenges for future expansion of the electric vehicle market. But transit vehicles, even school buses, run regular routes, and if the routes are short enough, the bus can be recharged overnight in the garages.

Tax credits, free HOV lane access, free charging stations and other subsidies for the rich are seen by most as terrible policies. Yet another, says University of California–Davis researcher Hanjiro Ambrose, is the Federal Transit Administration funding formulas that favor short-term cost-efficiency over long-term innovation. “Those funding mechanisms haven’t been aligned with trying to stimulate policy change,” Ambrose says. “The cheapest technology available isn’t usually the newest technology available.”

To work around high upfront battery costs, innovative capitalists are creating new financial products that allow fleet owners to finance battery purchases. Treating battery costs the same way as fuel costs – as ongoing expenses – meets federal guidelines. Matt Horton, chief commercial officer for U.S. BEB maker Proterra, says, “The importance of the private capital coming into this market cannot be understated.”

Green advocates admit the primary reason people choose EVs is their belief that electric cars and buses, even with electricity generated from fossil fuels, are good for the environment. The Union of Concerned Scientists claims BEBs are 2.5 times cleaner in terms of lifespan emissions than diesel buses. That is highly questionable. Moreover, BEBs with today’s strongest batteries can take a full load no more than 150 miles in good weather. That’s fine for airport shuttles, maybe even for short public transit routes.

However, electric battery life is shorter than the 12-year vehicle life that many transit and school bus systems rely upon in their budgets. Battery replacement for BEBs is very expensive and unpredictable.

And then there are the horror stories. Los Angeles Metro purchased BEBs from Chinese-owned BYD Ltd. but yanked the first five off the road within a few months. Agency staff called the buses “unsuitable,” poorly made, and unreliable for more than 100 miles. Albuquerque returned seven out of its 16 BYD buses, citing cracks, leaking fluid, axle problems and inability to hold charges.

French journalist Alon Levy reported that BEB sales teams in Vancouver admitted their buses could not run for an entire day without recharging during layovers. Worse, in Minneapolis, bus performance suffers tremendously in cold weather: at 20o F buses cannot last all day; on Super Bowl Sunday, at 5o F, a battery bus lasted only 40 minutes and traveled barely 16 miles. Imagine being in a BEB in a blizzard.

In largely rural Maine, lawmakers proposed converting all school buses to BEBs. But Maine Heritage Policy Center policy analyst Adam Crepeau found that BEBs can travel no more than 135 miles per charge (in good weather), while diesel buses go up to 400 miles and can be refilled quickly almost anywhere. “This,” he said, “will severely impact the ability of schools to use them for longer trips, for sporting events, field trips and other experiences for students.” Or in bitterly cold Maine winters.

The economic and practical bottom line is simple. Activists and sales teams are pressing American cities, school boards and other public entities to follow China and convert their fleets to BEBs, calling them “the wave of the future.” Even in California, where lengthy power outages have become routine, this climate and anti-fossil ideology dominates. Given the growing vulnerability of our electric grid, among other concerns, cost and performance may not be the only considerations in making such an irreversible choice.

The environmental and ethical bottom line is equally simple – but routinely gets shunted aside.

Electric vehicles require about three times more copper than internal combustion equivalents – plus lithium, cobalt and other metals for their batteries. Wind turbines need some 200 times more steel, copper, plastics, rare earths, concrete and other materials per megawatt than combined-cycle gas turbines. Photovoltaic solar panels have similar materials requirements. 100% “renewable, sustainable” Green New Deal electricity systems on US or Chinese scales would require millions of turbines, billions of solar panels and billions of half-ton Tesla-style battery packs for cars, buses and backup electricity storage.

Those technologies, on those scales, would require mining at levels unprecedented in world history! And the environmental and human rights record we’ve seen for those high-tech metals is terrifying.

Lithium comes mostly from Tibet and the Argentina-Bolivia-Chile “lithium triangle,” where contaminated lands and waters are poisoning fish, livestock, wildlife and people. Most cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 40,000 children and their parents slave in open pits and dark, narrow tunnels – and get exposed constantly to filthy, toxic, radioactive mud, dust, water and air. Broken bones, suffocation, blood and respiratory diseases, birth defects, cancer and paralysis are commonplace.

Nearly all the world’s rare earth elements come from Inner Mongolia. Mining the ores involves pumping acid into the ground and processing them with more acids and chemicals. Black sludge from the operations is piped to a huge foul-smelling “lake” that is surrounded by formerly productive farmlands that are now so toxic that nothing can grow on them, and people and wildlife have just moved away. Here too, severe skin and respiratory diseases, cancers and other terrible illnesses have become commonplace.

In many of these cases, the mining and processing operations are run by Chinese companies, under minimal to nonexistent pollution control, workplace safety, fair wage, child labor or other basic standards that American, Canadian, Australian and European companies are expected to follow.

And this is just for today’s “renewable, sustainable, ethical, Earth-friendly, green” technologies. Just imagine what we are likely to see if China, California, New York, Europe and countless other places start mandating a fossil-fuel-free future – and then shut down nuclear power, to boot. Where will we get all the raw materials? Where will we put all the wind turbines, solar panels, batteries and transmission lines?

The prospect is horrifying. And it’s all justified by exaggerated fears of a climate apocalypse. Crazy!

Duggan Flanakin is director of policy research for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT).

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February 15, 2020 6:48 pm

Greenies, Democrats and Socialists imagine a vain Utopian World in which there are no consequences of actions only rewards for moral superiority measured by their own private yardstick. The fact that the consequences impoverish the people, kill birds, bats and mine workers, pollute the environment and deprive people of power are small beer in the Utopian World. In exactly the way that they fail to see that CO2 is enriching and greening the World, that higher temperatures would reduce mortality and help agriculture, the Greenies, Democrats and Socialists see only their own inner religious belief in the collective ‘environmental’ goal. There are no consequences to their pious actions because as they believe there can be no consequences to their high moral quasi-religious urges.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
February 15, 2020 7:16 pm

For decades, Thomas Sowell has been pointing out that left wing policies demonstrably do not work. The left has an amazing ability to ignore that its policies obviously don’t work.

Reply to  commieBob
February 16, 2020 12:14 am

They believe. The woke leftards don’t want your stinkin facts. Fweelz are what matters…

William Powers
Reply to  Chaswarnertoo
February 16, 2020 9:42 am

Its not that they wouldn’t listen to facts, the problem is that the facts are filtered out for the feel good stuff they learn at Public School, which is reinforced when they turn on their television in the evening.

Then facts become windmills the leftists slay when the under-educated and over-indoctrinated get their government subsidized Student loans for Big Brother conditioning at safe zones we laughing call college campuses. By the time facts reach them it is SPUN as lying propaganda and the college organizes protest marches against the truth.

We allowed the socialists to lock their process down so facts have to cower in dark corners in fear of feelings. If you get caught in the company of facts, you are toast. Ask Winston Smith.
Big Brother is watching YOU.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
February 16, 2020 8:03 pm

To clean up city air, the practical solution for in-city buses is to convert them to run on propane or compressed-natural-gas.

The practical solution to greatly improve in-city air quality is to get rid of diesels – and there is little or no need for diesel in cities. Diesels are great for highway hauling, but propane or natural gas (and even gasoline) vehicles are adequate for in-city.

The main problem with municipal governments is we tend to elect people who are so incredibly stupid that “city politician” is probably the only job they can get – and they know it. Most have drank the klimate kool-aid; a few know it is false hysteria but they also know they cannot hold on to their jobs if they start telling the truth.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
February 16, 2020 9:08 pm

Another green pipe-dream bits the dust… Quelle surprise!


“The fate of the 20 hydrogen buses is still unknown. What is clear is that they cost three times as much to fuel and maintain as diesel buses. And because a project to build a “hydrogen highway” from California to B.C. never materialized, hydrogen fuel had to be shipped from Quebec.”

Was the hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water or by steam/methane reforming? If the latter, then the CO2 reduction was zero – the CO2 was just released in Quebec, not BC.

Reply to  nicholas tesdorf
February 19, 2020 3:54 am

Ballard is the company that manufactures the fuel cells for the busses. Their shares are up about 500% over the past six months.

February 15, 2020 6:50 pm

China hasn’t even really come online yet….
when they finally do…they are going to make us look like a 25w light bulb

February 15, 2020 6:59 pm

This comment has nothing to do with green buses so, mr. Moderator, if you do not approve I will understand;

but I was wondering if wuwt will do a post on the passing of the late great climate scientist and nobel laureate rajendra pachauri (sp?)

Lubos Motl had this to say

“On Thursday, February 13th, the 79-year-old Rajendra Pachauri ceased to live due to his long-term heart problems. He was an Indian railwayman, a sexual pervert, and one of the most notorious fraudsters in the world who has also led the IPCC panel promoting the climate change alarmist scheme. Rot In Hell, monster”

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 15, 2020 7:08 pm

Jordan Peterson has been having serious health problems. The SJWs are piling on the crap. It’s disgusting. No matter what we think about Pachauri, we can be better than that. obit

Reply to  commieBob
February 15, 2020 8:55 pm

Yes sir CommieBob
I am sure you are right about this. I was just quoting lubos

Reply to  chaamjamal
February 16, 2020 2:37 am

Lubos does not agree with those who advocate, “De Mortuis, nil nisi bonum”.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Herbert
February 16, 2020 4:52 pm

Pragmatically speaking I would say most death is a wonderful time to discuss a person’s ‘achievements’.

Being dead does not make one innocent. It just makes them dead.

Sure the dead do not get the right of reply, but then again they have had their entire life to perform actions that will give them a favourable and lasting legacy. If that legacy is found lacking then hiding behind one’s gravestone shouldn’t be a justifiable defence.

History has unfortunately given us a collection of people who by the standards of our society and culture may be judged as monsters. Are they off limits?

If the dead is ill, then speak of them, just be prepared to own your statements.

Reply to  Herbert
February 16, 2020 7:42 pm

The Latin phrase “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum” means
“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good.”

When it comes to Rajendra Pachauri, Lubos was simply being accurate. That was probably as good as it gets.

There will come a time when every leader of the murderous CAGW/climate scam is viewed the same way.

Future generations will look in awe at their bold fraud, and will wonder at the incredible gullibility of their fawning acolytes.

By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng., April 14, 2019

February 15, 2020 6:59 pm

It isn’t obvious to me that battery powered buses are the best electric buses. Kitchener-Waterloo just installed an extensive light rail system. lrt

When I was a kid, there were electric trolley bus systems with rubber-tired vehicles that got their electricity from an overhead network of wires. Hamilton, Ontario, had them into the 1970s or later.

We know that electric trolley buses work. Why bother with batteries?

Patrick MJD
Reply to  commieBob
February 15, 2020 7:15 pm

The best power is diesel electric, which is what the new fleet of “Route Masters” (Or TNB4L) are powered by. I really miss the old London Rout Traveller and Route Masters. Some still run on special tour routs, but they are dwindling fast with little or no spares to keep the remaining few alive

Patrick MJD
February 17, 2020 3:19 am

This is true. Not many are around, most simply been scrapped decades ago. The RM in the pic is a relatively “recent” one, a “B” reg (Registration plate), “ALN 71B”, 1964.

Reply to  commieBob
February 15, 2020 7:42 pm

To my mind, the only obvious benefit of EVs is that their pollution is not released where they are used. So EVs don’t pollute cities – and there is pollution from ICE vehicles and it does matter in cities. So this is a genuine benefit.

I don’t like light rail in cities – it is inflexible and can stuff up other traffic, and the overhead power lines are ugly. Electric buses are a bit more flexible but they still have the overhead wires. Battery vehicles are flexible, they don’t have to stuff up other traffic, they don’t have ugly overhead wires, but they are probably heavier(?) and they don’t go far and are worst in cold weather. Technology can solve the last part, so in the end battery vehicles may turn out to be best. For any EV, surely battery-swap is way better than re-charging stations??? A computerised system can easily handle different battery ages, retire old batteries, etc, and the cost is spread over time instead of being a big hit. A battery-swap could even be a lot quicker than refilling a FF tank.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 15, 2020 8:53 pm

There is no way swapping out a 1000 pound battery would ever be quick.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 16, 2020 7:34 pm

they are probably heavier(?)

How could they not be? The overhead transmission pickup/trolley pole weighs nothing even compared to the battery in a Tesla car.

and they don’t go far and are worst in cold weather. Technology can solve the last part, so in the end battery vehicles may turn out to be best

This is exactly the sort of hand-wavy argument used by renewables advocates when intermittency is brought up. Either present a solution or don’t put forward statements like this, that are really a hopeful wish.

Reply to  Mike Jonas
February 17, 2020 3:45 pm

Where would you store the batteries?

How do you handle fire safety?

Procyon Bearsfoot
Reply to  commieBob
February 15, 2020 9:16 pm

because they cannot change their route

February 15, 2020 7:02 pm

Here in Wellington NZ the regional council scrapped our fleet of electric trolley buses with the promise they would be rebuilt with batteries. Didn’t work out plus the new fleet of diesel electric hybrid buses were a failure as well. We’ve ended up with older second hand diesel polluters while they try to find a solution.
We got a new mayor this year partly because of the transport chaos. Scariest words in the world: “I’m from the government, I’m here to help.”

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Ribro90
February 15, 2020 7:22 pm

You are kidding right? So the Wellington council ripped up trams in favour of the trolley busses and now the trolley busses are gone in favour of something worse? Shame! I used to ride the No. 1 from Island Bay to the CBD. I don’t recall anyone being injured by a broken cable but I guess they were expensive to maintain.

Reminds me of when the Wairarapa Council IIRC ripped up the branch line in the 50’s from Featherston to Martinborough because they didn’t think anyone would want to live out that far. Even the US Army offered to build a road tunnel through the Rimutaka Hill, but they said no. Fools!

How wrong the councils in that region have been since the 50’s.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Patrick MJD
February 15, 2020 9:28 pm

You have to understand that that those who go into politics do so because they would be fired from any other job for incompetence.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 16, 2020 12:17 am

Show business for ugly people…..

Serge Wright
February 15, 2020 7:09 pm

As a resident of Australia, having recently witnessed the devestating fires and now recent floods and storms, one thing that these natuaral disasters all have in common are large scale power outages and the only mechanism for people to both evacuate on mass and then later return for the clean up and restoration of infrastructure is via fossil fuel energy. In fact, if we were living in the fairy-tale world imagined by green advocates, where we were all reliant on electric vehicles and renewable energy, the death toll from recent events would have been catastrophic due to the immobilisation of people, unable to flee from the areas, and then the complete inability for people to return to an area where there was no power to charge their batteries or provide intermin sources of enegy.

These examples of course lead to the very question of national security. Having an all electric vehicle fleet means than when grid power is lost, you lose not just your business and residential souce of energy, but also your transportation. A case off having all your eggs in one basket. Having a vehicle fleet running off diesel and petrol, provides the alternate energy source for people to manage the emergency and then recover from the emergency. During the recent fires, when the electricity grid infrastructure was lost, it was easy to truck in extra petrol tankers to keep vehicles running and also provide power for portable generators needed by government, business and residents to maintain food and water supplies and commence the clean-up and re-build. In my own situation, I was running off my portable generator for over a week, but was able to manage very effectively with power to the house and transportation. This situation applies equally to any disater including cyclones, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis or wars.

Put simply, an all electric vehicle future is a very scary prospect indeed and yet discussion regarding these risks is completely absent as we march towards the cliff.

Reply to  Serge Wright
February 15, 2020 7:32 pm

The public transit authority of the Pennsylvania part of the Philadelphia metro area (SEPTA) wants to build its own power plant, fueled by natural gas, by a major railroad trunk that it makes a lot of use of, and less than a mile from one of its subway lines, and within a few blocks of the endpoint of one of its “trackless trolley” lines. I think this is a good idea. This power plant can also be used to recharge electric bus batteries, which will achieve more miles per fossil fuel BTU and per equivalent ton of CO2 of greenhouse gas emissions than diesel buses achieve. It’s a shame that most of Philadelphia’s”greens” oppose this power plant.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 15, 2020 8:55 pm

“which will achieve more miles per fossil fuel BTU”

Not true, but why let facts get in the way of feeling good about yourself.

Reply to  MarkW
February 15, 2020 10:00 pm

MarkW: What I claimed actually is true, because the combined efficiency of generation, transmission and distribution of electricity from a modern natural gas fired power plant, times the battery charging circuit efficiency and times the motor efficiency of electrical vehicles is about the same as the efficiency of a diesel road vehicle engine and greater than the efficiency of a gasoline road vehicle engine. And, the natural gas power plant that SEPTA wants to build is to be built in a location that eliminates electrical power transmission loss, and the way it is to be used will mostly eliminate electrical power distribution loss.

Iain Reid
Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 16, 2020 1:01 am


CCGT plants are supose to be about 60% efficient, however they often run a lower output than desirable and do a lot of load balancing which decreases their efficiency. Also you omitted the losses of the power electronics that control the motor, probably less efficient than the motor itself? I don’t think there is much in it at all, petrol or diesel but even by your scenario they are not going to reduce CO2 emissions by much, given that their extra load on the grid is met by dispatchable power plants, i.e. fossil fuels in most places.

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 16, 2020 7:12 am

Still not true, but what the heck, we have a planet to save.

Craig from Oz
Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 16, 2020 5:23 pm

Like to see your working here, Donald.

Frankly I am extremely dubious.

What people promoting their own little version of limitless clean energy seem to forget to mention is that no technology advances exist in a vacuum. Fans of wind (pun not intended) like to make claims that new battery tech or new magnets or new generators will make their heroes more cost effective, forgetting that competing methods are all looking at exactly the same technology improvements and incorporating them into their own designs.

Things improve.

I recently went from an 11 year old 2L turbo diesel to a current build 2L turbo diesel. I now have 1.25x as much torque and are burning 80% as much fuel. Things improve.

If you want to convince us this proposal is going to give more bang per buck then ICE you are going to need to show us a bit more than a few paragraphs.

Reply to  Serge Wright
February 16, 2020 3:18 am

Serge, there must have been solar farms affected by fires or hailstorms here in Australia, yet this has not been reported on. Appart from the ecological damage done to soil and waterways by the damaged panels, the electricity supply is interrupted, and potentially in the future with no backup.

The world has gone crazy.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Serge Wright
February 16, 2020 4:08 am

Very well said. Experience beats belief again.
Geoff S

February 15, 2020 7:11 pm

As more and more of these revelations come to light, I’m thinking of applying for a government grant to develop my ultimate renewable energy solution for transport vehicles –

it’s a big tubful of electric eels built into the underbody luggage compartment, and passengers have insulated sticks that go through holes in the floor to stir up the eels, which give off defensive electric bursts that power the drive motors.

I’m trusting everyone here to keep schtum about this brilliant solution. Musk would shake grants from governments all around the world before I could even rig a landing net, let alone find a river with lots of electric eels.

Reply to  Mr.
February 15, 2020 7:37 pm

…I was thinking of capturing the light from fire flies using photovoltaic cells…

Komrade Kuma
Reply to  Mr.
February 15, 2020 7:43 pm

Too true Mr. and I can just imagine the shock to Tesla and the EV market when you float “Eelectrick’ on the global market……. zzzzzzt !

Reply to  Komrade Kuma
February 15, 2020 9:36 pm

Good zinger KK.
Bill Shorten will be jealous.

February 15, 2020 7:19 pm

Regarding battery life being shorter than 12 years: I recently learned from Prius owners and my own personal experience that Li ion batteries last longer than the 7 years that I used to think. I have some cordless rechargeable trouble lights of a model that I helped development around 2006, and I am still using some early production units that were sent back as field failures from he first production run that I troubleshot and repaired. (My failure diagnoses were used to improve production.)

Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 16, 2020 7:43 pm

Are the Prius batteries Li-ion? I thought they were NiMH.

How deeply and often do your cycle those lights off yours?

February 15, 2020 7:25 pm

As for daily mileage limitation of battery powered electric buses: Many city buses run far less than 150 miles per day. I think most do. Also, they can be designed to have their batteries swapped during lunch breaks and other break times if necessary. Electric buses can be made to have batteries taken out and put in with the lifting and carrying work being done by a pallet jack or a forklift.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Donald L. Klipstein
February 17, 2020 10:56 am

Your idea of using a pallet jack or forklift are quite naive. Something like that would require a specialized lift mechanism – think of something like a car hoist. This is because the batteries run the entire length of the bus and are currently built into the frame. You also have to consider that the batteries not only have multiple electrical connections, but they also have multiple hoses connecting them to the cooling system (so they don’t overheat during heavy discharge). All of these interconnects need to be properly designed so that they can be disconnected and reconnected by less than highly qualified personnel on a (at least) daily basis. And I’m sure there are other issues I’ve not even thought of. This is neither simple or easy to do.

John Robertson
February 15, 2020 7:43 pm

I admit I am cranky, but this “Carbon Free” rubbish has to go.
Or shall we force them to live up to their own words.
I have great difficulty imagining any “carbon Free” technology.
But I would love to be able to force the shysters to demonstrate such a thing.
What are they going to use for the buses structure?
What shall the tyres be made off.?

Reply to  John Robertson
February 16, 2020 12:19 am

‘Progressives’ must be forced to stop emitting carbon fumes….

February 15, 2020 7:51 pm

Typical Utopian Green thinking is if we convert everything to electric the world will be saved. Typical Utopian Green thinking always, always, has unintended consequences because they can’t think beyond the end of their nose. Buses in metro Southern California today are mostly converted to LNG. A HUGE upgrade for quality of life as the diesel fumes are gone. Buses are not optimally used in SoCal though. Cars are and bus transportation in my neck of the woods lacks enough riders to even clear expenses and the frequency is far and few in between to make it useful. Electric buses would reduce the noise factor but with so few running so what? Downtown LA could use them but they had electric trolley cars 1/2 a century ago and ditched them for diesel buses. I used to sell newspapers in the trolley car waiting zones in the middle of the street and can vouch for their quiet and fume free operation. They didn’t need batteries and were very smooth and efficient. Fixed transportation lines shouldn’t use batteries.

John Andrews
February 15, 2020 8:15 pm

You don’t have to wait for the battery to run down to recharge it. What if the bus route had charging stations at each stop that would automatically connect while the bus is at the stop. This would be something like a trolley connection overhead. If the battery is near full charge any short stop charge will be small, but if the battery is more discharged, the added charge would be larger. A process like this was proposed some years ago for busses using a flywheel to store power and a motor/generator to provide propulsion energy. So, its not my idea, but may be something to consider.

Reply to  John Andrews
February 16, 2020 11:01 am

JA: So extend the stops to charge the battery? That would increase the total trip time and reduce the effectiveness of mass transit. It’s already time consuming and that would make it worse IMO. Short bursts of charges would require high amperage to be effective and that would reduce the battery life as well because of the heat generated. Also, to increase LiOn battery range it’s better to let them discharge to a low level (20%?) then recharge to full…..although range wouldn’t be an issue if you were recharging them constantly. Overhead charging like the old trolleys solves a lot of problems and I’m sure they could do it better/more efficient/cleaner installation today and buses wouldn’t have to be on a track and allowed to change lanes if necessary.

Pop Piasa
February 15, 2020 8:27 pm

How many batteries does a golf cart need to move 2 duffers around the course all day?. How many does it take to move passengers all day from the airport to the hotel with a/c?

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Pop Piasa
February 16, 2020 1:47 pm

Golf carts are not cheep, I have on the bill to replace the batteries is $800.00 every three years. Think how much gas that would buy and how far a small ICE car could drive on the at best a golf cart get about a third of that. Oh by the way I don’t golf. It to get me around the neighborhood.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Pop Piasa
February 17, 2020 11:04 am

The batteries in a golf cart weigh about as much as the occupants. Golf carts spend a lot of time stopped while the duffers are whacking around that little ball. If you look at the actual distance covered for even 18 holes, it’s only a few miles. And then because most courses have more carts than they need, they get a chance to charge up between uses. And finally, as far as I can tell, most courses have switched over to CNG powered carts with start/stop systems.

Joel O'Bryan
February 15, 2020 9:15 pm

EV’s and their transferred environmental horrors are the analogous moral equivalent of the lessons behind The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

If you are unfamiliar with that moral tale:

“Dorian Gray is the subject of a full-length portrait in oil by Basil Hallward, an artist impressed and infatuated by Dorian’s beauty; he believes that Dorian’s beauty is responsible for the new mood in his art as a painter. Through Basil, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton, and he soon is enthralled by the aristocrat’s hedonistic world view: that beauty and sensual fulfilment are the only things worth pursuing in life.

Newly understanding that his beauty will fade, Dorian expresses the desire to sell his soul, to ensure that the picture, rather than he, will age and fade. The wish is granted, and Dorian pursues a libertine life of varied amoral experiences while staying young and beautiful; all the while, his portrait ages and records every sin.”

While the EV’s gain virtue in the West (virtue points to look pretty) , the toxic horrors are transferred elsewhere, to the poorest countries.
The environmental horrors in Mongolia to produce Rare Earths for magnets and electronics for EV motors and wind turbines, the Congo cobalt mines to make battery cathodes, and toxic wastes from Lithium mining in Chile to make the Li-on batteries … those are the rotting and decay transferred to the Portrait of Dorian Gray.
Hidden away, so Liberal elites can say NIMBY, and drive away in their $100,000 Tesla.

Clyde Spencer
February 15, 2020 9:23 pm

You made reference to “radioactive mud, …” What is the nature of this, i.e. the source of the radioactivity? Do you have a citation for this claim?

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Clyde Spencer
February 15, 2020 10:03 pm

From Brittanica:
“Another important compound, which is a hydrogen absorber used in green energy, is LaNi5. It is a main component in nickel–metal hydride rechargeable batteries, which are used in hybrid and all-electric motor vehicles. LaNi5 absorbs and dissolves hydrogen quite readily near room temperature, absorbing six hydrogen atoms per LaNi5 molecule at modest hydrogen pressure. This is one of the major rare-earth markets.”

And the byproduct that currently does not have market is Thorium.

“After the thorium has been removed from the rare earths, the latter are used as a mixed concentrate or are further processed for the individual elements (see below).”

At an Earth age of 4.5 Billion years, 232-Thorium radioactive decay is the largest single contributor to the Earth’s internal heat. The radioactive decay products of 232-Thorium are radium, radon, and polonium-210. All bad stuff.

Thorium is your answer Clyde. And Google is your friend.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
February 16, 2020 4:19 am

As noted by Paracelsus and others long ago, all substances are poisons. The harm is in the dose. It is horribly unscientific to spread fright about some material simply because it is radioactive. You have to detail the dose. All people are radioactive, but at low doses. Geoff S

F.LEGHORN in Alabama
Reply to  Geoff Sherrington
February 16, 2020 12:12 pm

Don’t tell the kids about radioactive bananas. It could scar them for life.

February 15, 2020 10:48 pm

Wait until a BEB School bus does what electric vehicles are likely to do, spontaneously ignite and burn with a virtually inextinguishable flame. Will they still be popular?

February 16, 2020 1:04 am

NTZ did a story on Buses in Germany

“Wiesbaden: 45 million euros, only on flat routes”

“Nürtingen electric bus pilot “a flop”…battery 80,000 euros!”

“Trier: buses taken out of service after just 2 weeks”

“Bremen backs off electric bus plans: “many disadvantages”

Seems the technology is not there yet.

Vincent Causey
February 16, 2020 1:09 am

If the MSM would make documentaries and write leading articles about the horrific practices of the mining operations this article mentioned at the end, I think we would see public support for “green” energy disappear overnight.

Reply to  Vincent Causey
February 16, 2020 3:35 am

Vincent I have lost count of the number of people I have written to regarding the toxic horror of renewables, including MSM and politicians. I am yet to get a response.

February 16, 2020 1:17 am

As a cyclist in the UK, I really appreciate the latest diesel electric hybrid buses. If you’re stuck behind a stationary one, and it pulls away, the initial acceleration is on electric only, and this means you don’t get the big puff of fumes and soot that you get from a pure diesel in the first high-torque low rpm moments. You can then hear the diesel start after a few seconds. The exhausts all have to be much cleaner than they were to meet the latest regulations, and it makes the streets a much nicer place. Compared with 45 years ago when I was a teenager, it’s a vast improvement, and I wish I could send the current crop of whiners back in time to let them see what has been achieved.
However, I have grave doubts about going all-electric for even buses, never mind cars, and wonder what our idiot politicians have between their ears. Given that many homes in my town don’t have a private driveway or garage, perhaps the government could explain where we charge the golf-carts masquerading as cars that we’ll have to buy post 2035.

Reply to  sonofametman
February 16, 2020 7:20 am

You can always tell a leftist. They don’t care how many people are inconvenienced, as long as their life is improved.

They also seem to believe that any opposition to their latest increase in regulation is proof that you actually want to eliminate all regulations.

Adam Gallon
February 16, 2020 1:25 am

Bus manufacturers will be rubbing their hands in glee,at the thought of replacing all these diesel buses, with electric ones.
Lots of jobs in cities where they’re made, ditto for battery makers & recyclers.
Same reason car manufacturers are pushing out their electric models and lobbying hard for more government support.
Modern cars are just too reliable & last too long.

Reply to  Adam Gallon
February 16, 2020 7:21 am

And even more business when the electric buses are dumped and cities try something else.

Don K
February 16, 2020 2:15 am

“But Maine Heritage Policy Center policy analyst Adam Crepeau found that BEBs can travel no more than 135 miles per charge (in good weather),”

So far as I know, the last recorded occurrence of good weather in Northern New England was in Upper Darby, New Hampshire on May 17, 1916 from 10:22 to 10:37 am. . The region has a lot of attractions. “Good weather” isn’t one of them.

Geoff Sherrington
February 16, 2020 4:21 am

As noted by Paracelsus and others long ago, all substances are poisons. The harm is in the dose. It is horribly unscientific to spread fright about some material simply because it is radioactive. You have to detail the dose. All people are radioactive, but at low doses. Geoff S

February 16, 2020 5:13 am

The cost of li ion batteries has dropped enormously over the past 5 to 10 years. Tesla’s first vehicle – a two passenger sports car had a 40-50 kWhr battery that they charged $40,000 to replace. Today’s li ion batteries cost roughly $100 per kWhr – GM claims it will cost less than $1000 kWhr in the coming year.
Batteries are typically warranteed for 8 years, but there is evidence that batteries can last over 15 years, outlasting the car itself. ALSO, using today’s battery costs to estimate lifespan cost, including battery replacement costs, is totally invalid – we know that those costs will be significantly lower than today’s battery costs 15 years from now. In fact, it has always been assumed that when battery costs reach $100 per kWhr, electric vehicles’ prices will be equal to gas powered vehicle prices, which would make electric vehicles much cheaper to fuel and maintain. An electric vehicle has thousands fewer parts in its drivetrain and Tesla is warranteeing its semi truck drivetrain for 1 million miles. EVs don’t even have transmissions (although the Porche Taycan has a simple two speed unit – for performance).
And discussions of the costs of materials for batteries and electric motors is rather misleadin, as both are developing different technologies – some electric motors avoid the use of Earth metals altogether. And lithium will probably either disappear or be drastically reduced in batteries.
Discussions like these are as invalid as discussions of future warming that assumes carbon emissions will remain the same – electric generation technology clearly is moving towards 4th Gen small modular molten salt reactors that share practically nocharacteristics as current conventioal light water nuclear reactor – they are smaller, more quickly built, totally safe, able to load follow, need noo bodies of cooling waters, and produce power at around 4 centgs per kWhr, levelized.

Reply to  ColMosby
February 16, 2020 7:26 am

That something has come down in price in the past is not evidence that the drop in prices will continue, much less at the same rate.
Batteries are warrantied for 8 years, but at a highly pro-rated amount.
Can batteries last 15 years? Sure, if you never use them.

“we know that those costs will be significantly lower than today’s battery costs 15 years from now.”

Lets take the most extreme of all your bad examples, whip them together and come up with a totally ludicrous claim.

Batteries have been around for hundreds of years, the same for electric motors. To claim that either, much less both is a “developing” technology is delusion of the highest order.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  MarkW
February 16, 2020 1:56 pm

“Thus, there are far more zero-emission passenger cars on the road today in the U.S. and Europe than public transit vehicles. ” Nope sorry, they all create emission, the only way they cannot is either be charge by Nuclear or Hydro. Even with that it take fossil fuels to produce them. They start with and energy debt that requites them to be drive for at least 80,000 miles just to make up for the energy it took to produce said batteries add in the “fuel” they still use is generated via fossil fuels. Non pollution transportation does not exist today and will not in the future, walking is not non polluting, you food has to come from somewhere. last I check it was not from you backyard garden like it was when I was a kid, even then we need outside inputs. I grew up poor if it was not for the garden we would have starved.

Reply to  ColMosby
February 16, 2020 11:45 am

CM said: ” EVs don’t even have transmissions” Incorrect. All that I’m aware of have step down gears …. a transmission … to make the electric motor more efficient int their RPM range. That’s where all the torque comes from.

Reply to  markl
February 16, 2020 12:31 pm

“produce power at around 4 centgs per kWhr, levelized.”

They haven’t even built one yet, but we know exactly how much it will cost to operate.

Reply to  MarkW
February 16, 2020 1:23 pm

Quite a few electric buses getting around in Australia – Chinese imports being used by smaller operators on school bus and local tour routes. Not full size tour buses but a bit larger than a Toyota Coaster. The ones of these I have seen in China had 4 speed manual transmissions, which makes for better performance with smaller motors and batteries. They seem to work just fine, but I guess if you forget to charge them it could get embarrassing.

George Daddis
February 16, 2020 6:55 am

Here in Clemson South Carolina, the city and the eponymous University (I always wanted to use that word in a sentence) converted their sizable fleet to electric. The Clemson Area Transit or CAT buses (Clemson’s mascot is a Tiger – get it?) cover an area that includes large campus, the city and several rural towns and 3 other colleges. After initial start up problems the systems appears to be operating very well. There are a number of en-route overhead charging stations.
– The system is subsidized by state and federal grants, to the several schools and towns involved.
– It is likely that at least the first fleet (about 16 buses) was also discounted by Proterra located in nearby Greenville, SC.
– It is a free service to passengers.
– Local media has stayed on top of expenditures and problems; nothing yet about battery replacement after 5 years.
On the surface this is a good system, but the question of whether it would be worthwhile of course depends on the details of the subsidies, battery life, and ongoing usage.

February 16, 2020 7:07 am

As mentioned, Albuquerque purchased the BYD electric buses and then returned them. Now we’re stuck with buses-only lanes running down the center of our main business district, Central Ave (formerly Route 66). We have two competing bus systems on the street, the dedicated lane wreaks havoc with traffic, including pedestrian crossings because the reduced lanes string out traffic in both directions. We’re stuck with a white elephant because a monorail salesmen dangled the shiny electric bus trinket in front of our moronic mayor and city counsel and the feds subsidized their fantasy. (The replacement for the failed electric buses are diesel.)

Michael Jankowski
February 16, 2020 7:38 am

“…The cost of li ion batteries has dropped enormously over the past 5 to 10 years. Tesla’s first vehicle – a two passenger sports car had a 40-50 kWhr battery that they charged $40,000 to replace. Today’s li ion batteries cost roughly $100 per kWhr – GM claims it will cost less than $1000 kWhr in the coming year…”

GM claims what now? “$1000 kWhr” makes no sense. $1000 per kWhr would make no sense because you also claim that “Today’s li ion batteries cost roughly $100 per kWhr.” BTW, GM killed the Volt just over a year ago, and their president just acknowledged in Nov there are lots of things keeping EVs from becoming mainstream, including battery costs (for up to 10 yrs).

“…Today’s li ion batteries cost roughly $100 per kWhr…it has always been assumed that when battery costs reach $100 per kWhr, electric vehicles’ prices will be equal to gas powered vehicle prices…”

Well so you claim that today’s battery costs should have driven EV costs to be equal to ICEs, and yet they’re nowhere close.

Kia Niro ICE has an MSRP starting at $23,490. The EV version MSRP starts at $38,500. That’s an immense difference.

February 16, 2020 10:08 am

A major reason for going electric in the traffic is to handle air pollution and engine noise.

That is a huge plus.

George Daddis
Reply to  Jan kjetil Andersen
February 16, 2020 1:32 pm

That is a local problem and the cost to remedy should be paid by the local municipality and residents.

Downtown engine noise and diesel air pollution should not be a federal concern deserving of a subsidy; whereas a reduction of CO2 emissions (if they really were a problem) could be validly argued to be a “general good”.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Jan kjetil Andersen
February 16, 2020 2:09 pm

Excuse me. ” handle air pollution and engine noise” first a modern ICE vehicle does not add to air pollution other than, the dust it generates as it goes down the road, and electric car does the same. CO2 is not a pollutant and you cannot see it or smell it. Engine nose is virtual non existence and a decent muffler make an ICE car quite(even my 1984 Chevy Nova idling was silent, you could not tell it was running). Yes you do get the noise of it sucking in air and the belt noise of running the generator, water pump and AC. What you will hear first is the today is noise all cars make going down the road. As far as car that do make noise due to a modified exhaust system, I always have feel it reflected on the owner as the noise you vehicle make is invest proportional with the noise it makes.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
February 16, 2020 6:32 pm

Those who have a psychological need to make their cars noisy, would likely find some way to make their electrics noisy as well.

Reply to  Jan kjetil Andersen
February 16, 2020 6:30 pm

Engine noise hasn’t been a problem for decades.
Then again, except for diesels, neither has been air pollution.

February 16, 2020 11:01 am

MIT says [Nov 2019] that Li batteries are ~ $124/kWhr, and battery electric vehicles likely won’t be cost equal to an ICE [sedan = light duty vehicle] for another 10 years or so. This analysis uses full lifecycle costs: from mining the ore, making the car, purchase, maintenance/fuel, and recycling at end-of-life (but no battery replacement or recycling).
Details start ~ page 16 …
The full 220 page report is also available at
It changed my mind about replacing my 2011 hybrid Sonata with a Tesla3. Just gonna keep driving the Sonata.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Bill Zipperer
February 16, 2020 2:18 pm

I have always felt you drive a car as far as you can. Modern ICE cars would go 200,000 miles with much add cost. My 1984 nova went 405,000 miles without any major repair cost, today ICE vehicles should do half that easily. My 2007 GMC Canyon went 235,000 mile before I replaced it, that only happen because I was on a road trip and the good new bad news, good news was the repair was $235.00 the bad news is the part would be here on Tuesday, well that was Saturday and I need to be six hundred mile further down the road by Sunday. I luck out and on the used lot was a 2016 Chevy Colorado with a box cover. Everything I need at that point and time. Oh by the way there are now EV charging stations between those two points either.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
February 16, 2020 6:33 pm

“200,000 miles with much add cost”

Did you mean “without much additional cost”?

February 16, 2020 12:00 pm

I remember riding electric busses—–40 plus years ago as a kid in the 1970’s………
They were the trolly busses, with the pole to the wire, feeding the motors at the operator’s discretion.
Very efficient, no excess weight of batteries to lug around, no charging losses recharging batteries.
A cost analysis on both styles would be interesting.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Davis
February 16, 2020 2:30 pm

If you have a connection to the grid most of the time(and such a connection is cost effective) and have batteries only for the limited time between, a EV vehicle will win out each time. That why in the east most trains are powered by overhead power lines and about everywhere else it diesel electric trains. For those who do not know diesel electric trains have a diesel motor running a generator and the wheel are powered by a electric motor, this configuration eliminates a transmission and is much more efficient.

Reply to  Mark Luhman
February 16, 2020 6:36 pm

The problem comes when it’s time to change routes because demand has changed.
There is also no way to divert if traffic is blocked.

Smart Rock
February 16, 2020 1:02 pm

IIRC in the Netherlands they have traditional electric trolleybuses with supplemental battery power. The main streets have trolley wires. The buses can navigate routes through residential neighbourhoods on battery, and then re-connect to the wires when they get back on the main streets. The batteries are being charged whenever they are connected to the wires, so the batteries don’t have to be that huge.

Even the trolleybuses they had in London when I was growing up could travel a few hundred yards on battery power. I saw this myself a couple of times, when the trolleys came off the wires and the driver wanted to get safely out of a busy intersection before the tricky job of re-connecting.

February 16, 2020 1:13 pm

In China I have seen electric buses – trolley busses without continuous overhead wires, but with batteries enough to last stop to stop, with overhead wires only at the major stops – looks like a good solution at lower cost where the density of buses is high.
I also remember the old 1950’s trolley buses in Australia had small batteries so they could be garaged etc. without overhead wires.

Rudolf Huber
February 16, 2020 1:32 pm

Years ago I had a chat with a city bus operator. We have some electric busses here in Vienna so I wanted to know how happy he was with them. He told me that the defining problem is that they need to recharge the battery far more often than anticipated. The reason is that busses spend most of their life on one particular line. As batteries are expensive, Electric Busses are bought to specification. This means that their batteries are tailor-made for the purpose they are supposed to serve. The problem is that every battery starts a cycle of ever worse performance with every single recharge. Imperceptibly small at first, it becomes a perceptible problem quite soon. But once this reaches a certain level, the bus cannot complete its tour anymore on one charge. Either you change the battery or you build more recharging stops and change schedules. All onerous.

Mark Luhman
Reply to  Rudolf Huber
February 16, 2020 2:38 pm

Yes, batteries to the most part are not ready to power our transportation needs. Niche markets yes, general markets no. I just made a trip over 1800 mile one way with and ICE vehicle, a EV vehicle would not have been able to do it in the time frame or route I used. The inter-mountain west and great plains in winter are no place for EV, add in I was in below zero F weather and EV would have been toast, so would have I.

Loren Wilson
February 16, 2020 3:56 pm

“zero-emission passenger cars” don’t exist. There are always emissions, maybe not at the point of use.

February 17, 2020 12:15 am

What about the mass amount of plastic used in ev’s? From the body panels to the vast amount of electrical components. The greens have far to much power and influence, which is going to seriously interfere with our way of life.

Also I remember reading about the battery recycling problem in the uk, they said they car batteries are the biggest problem, with no way to recycle the batteries, I know that tesla batteries have that problem.

February 17, 2020 6:00 am

Even some German cities where green idiots have been elected into townhall have noticed that electric busses have reach and recharge speed problems and are not suited for the task.
LENR-Cars is working on clean vehicles that can drive a long time without refueling.

Johann Wundersamer
February 26, 2020 7:58 pm

Do ‘green’ buses pass the performance test?

Do they even pass basic energy, environmental, economic and human rights tests?

that’s gonna be a challenge:

that will be a challenge.

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