Electric and Fuel Cell Buses 2025-2045

Buses are the most common form of public transport in the world and are integral to public transport networks. In 2023, around 330,000 new bus and coach vehicles were produced. In most regions, these are primarily diesel, which not only contributes to CO₂ emissions but reduces air quality, especially in the most dense urban regions.
The global electrification of bus fleets is gaining increasing momentum around the globe after initially being confined to the Chinese market. IDTechEx research indicates that around 60,000 electric buses were sold in 2023 and that by 2045 this number will reach 190,000 annually. This report unpacks the factors that will drive this growth and gives in depth regional assessments into market trends and players. Technological innovation is also explored, with the latest developments in Li-ion batteries for buses, cathode chemistry trends, electric motors, fuel cells and charging infrastructure.
Global sales snapshot – China first and the rest of the world follows
Global electric bus sales peaked in 2016 and have endured a period of decline. Regions other than China are now driving renewed growth. Source: IDTechEx
Global sales of electric buses began at scale in the early 2010s, but the market has until recently been entirely dominated by China. A period of explosive growth helped in part by generous subsidies led to a peak of almost 120,000 sales in 2016. In the following years, a combination of subsidy withdrawal and saturation of tier-1 cities has caused sales in China to decline and then plateau. The rest of the world is only now following suit, with the European market leading the way.
Global electric bus sales in all regions except China. Strong growth can be seen, particularly in the Europe + UK market. Source: IDTechEx
Market overview – increasingly competitive and diverse.
There is a wide range of players in the electric bus space, making it an increasingly competitive market. In Europe, pure electric bus startups are now competing with the late entry of legacy bus OEMs (those who have a history manufacturing diesel buses) and Chinese imports. In 2023 the leading holder of market share was MAN, which held 16% of the available market share. Operators have a wealth of choice in terms of suppliers and models – and for many the challenge remains the higher upfront costs, with an electric bus being twice as expensive as an equivalent diesel bus. This report also provides current market analysis of China, the US, Latin America, Korea, Japan and India.
The segmented European electric bus market includes domestic OEMs, pure electric bus startups, and Chinese exports (in red). Source: IDTechEx
Battery electric or fuel cell?
In this report, IDTechEx studies the comparative deployments and merits of the main candidates for electrification:
  • BEB (Battery electric buses), fully battery electric with only onboard batteries. The most successful form of electrification with high drivetrain efficiencies. Improvements in battery storage and route optimization are allowing BEBs to succeed on real-world routes and they are no longer ‘pilot projects’ but in active service. IDTechEx predicts continued strong growth for BEBs as they become the dominant replacement for diesel buses, especially in the city bus sector.
  • FCEB (Fuel cell electric buses), on-board battery combined with a fuel cell stack and onboard hydrogen storage. Compared with BEBs they bring the promise of greater range and quicker refueling, but the high component cost and difficulty of sourcing cheap green hydrogen remain a consistent challenge. IDTechEx research shows much lower market penetration vs BEBs, with some operators even abandoning FCEBs in favor of BEBs. However, IDTechEx does expect the greater range of FCEBs to afford the technology some share of the long-distance coach market where opportunity charging is limited. Certain regions (such as Japan and South Korea) that have ambitious hydrogen policies will also see stronger growth of FCEBs.
This report provides in-depth analysis of case studies, TCO considerations and quantitative and qualitative benchmarking on electric bus technologies. Key questions are answered such as what battery energy density improvements will mean for range, and what are the infrastructure costs associated with fleet electrification. CO₂ emissions of FCEBs by the color of hydrogen used, and real-world efficiency and consumption data are explored and disseminated by IDTechEx in this report.
Batteries: capacity, chemistry choices and suppliers
The bus market is comparatively smaller in GWh volume demand than other sectors such as passenger cars, and this impacts economic decisions around battery pack sourcing. Whilst for the largest volume segments, vertical integration reduces costs and increases supply chain security, many bus OEMs do not require packs in the volume to warrant the investment required for in-house battery production. There are a few exceptions (BYD and MAN), which leverage demand in other sectors to reach the required demand. For most OEMs, battery packs are outsourced and this report includes information on the various battery pack suppliers and benchmarks products by capacity (kWh), chemistry (LFP/NMC) and energy density (kWh/kg).
IDTechEx has tracked the maximum available battery configuration for various electric bus models by release year, and a clear trend of increasing capacity and models can be seen. This has been driven by two main factors, increases in energy density (kWh/kg) meaning more energy can be stored in the same weight battery, and decreasing pack prices. The overall result for electric buses is increased range and options for routes.
Battery pack capacity (kWh) has been increasing on average in the global bus market. The number of models on offer has also increased. Source: IDTechEx
Electric motors
Replacing diesel ICE (internal combustion engines) with electric motors presents new opportunities and challenges for electric buses. This report explores the various technical options for motors (PMSM, ACIM, etc) and the various configurations they can be integrated into an electric bus. Tier-1 supplier analysis and supply relationships are also studied, with benchmarking of commercial traction motors by power and torque density.
Source: idtechex.com