Chinese electric vehicle makers are in a strong position to take advantage as the mass adoption of new energy buses takes off worldwide, especially in Europe where half of all new models sold by 2030 will be electric, according to a research note from analysts at UBS.

Why it matters: Rapid growth in the European electric bus market provides a great chance for Chinese makers as they have already gained years of product development and commercial operation experience.

  • Buses are still largely produced by hand, unlike sedans and trucks, and therefore Chinese companies can remain cost-competitive compared with European rivals, UBS said.
  • Chinese firms also boast mature comprehensive industry chains integrating batteries, motors, and controls.

“For years, Chinese automakers have lagged behind in the development of traditional vehicles. However, we believe they have great advantages in the new era of electric vehicles,” (our translation)

UBS China Auto Analyst Shen Wei

Details: Europe posted electric bus sales of about 1,000 units last year, roughly 5% of total sales. UBS estimates the number will increase four-fold next year to make up one-fifth of the total.

  • Annual new energy bus sales in Europe could hit 12,000 by 2030, according to UBS.

Context: Beijing adopted a plan to subsidize its EV industry in 2009 and started the nationwide deployment of electric buses in 2015 with the aim of turning the country into a global leader in new energy vehicles.

  • The number of new energy buses used for public transit in China reached 350,000 units as of last year, making up around half of the country’s total in urban areas. UBS expects that percentage to rise to over 80% by 2020.
  • Chinese EV giant BYD is by far the largest electric bus supplier to Europe, selling over 700 battery-electric buses. It has secured a 20% market share in the region since it entered in 2010.
  • Yutong followed BYD into the market and the Zhengzhou-based firm delivered around 100 electric buses to the continent as of the end of last year.

Jill Shen is Shanghai-based technology reporter. She covers Chinese mobility, autonomous vehicles, and electric cars. Connect with her via e-mail: or Twitter: @yushan_shen

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