Electric buses, which have zero tailpipe emissions, hold the potential to provide outsized air quality and climate benefits. Faster adoption of cleaner buses is an important part of the bigger climate solution, helping put cities on track towards sustainability. Despite the promise of electric buses, however, their adoption has been uneven and varied in scale. Implementation has not accelerated fast enough for the world to meet transport-related climate objectives.

This report identifies and presents the main barriers that cities face when implementing e-buses, especially in the global south. The barriers outlined in this report are meant to serve as cautionary tales. The intent of this publication is to provide a map of hazards to help guide high-level planning officials safely along the road to electric bus adoption.

Based on analysis from 16 case studies and the literature, this report provides a matrix of barriers facing electric bus adoption. Barriers are categorized by three general barriers to clean energy innovation, technological, financial, and institutional barriers; and three key elements of electric buses, vehicles and batteries, agencies and operators, and grid and charging infrastructure.

Common obstacles identified in this report include lack of operational knowledge on electric bus systems; unfamiliar procurement and financing schemes; and institutional deficiencies in terms of authority, funding, and land for the adaptations needed.

Key Findings

  • Key technological barriers are created by 1) the lack of relevant information for decision-making and 2) the current operational limitations of e-buses and charging infrastructure.
  • Key financial barriers emerge from 1) the difficulties agencies face to make the necessary changes to rigid procurement structures and 2) the lack of long-term, sustainable financing options.
  • Key institutional barriers stem from 1) the lack of political leadership and pragmatic public policy, and 2) the lack of institutional authority, funding, and physical real-estate.
  • By mapping key technological, financial, and institutional barriers from 16 case studies worldwide, the report provides cautionary tales, helping officials to anticipate the challenges they will face and plan accordingly to avoid costly mistakes.

Executive Summary

Full executive summary available in the paper.