The green transition of electric trucks and buses
14 December 2023
As electric vehicles (EVs) begin to make serious inroads into the passenger-car market, a green transition is also underway for heavy-duty trucks and buses. Przemek Kolasa, data manager for commercial vehicles at EV-volumes.com, examines the progress.
As a large contributor to global greenhouse gas levels, the commercial-vehicle sector is looking towards zero-emission possibilities. The development of battery-electric trucks and buses will lead to significantly cleaner mobility within logistics and passenger transport.
China leads heavy-duty electric-truck market
Currently, OEMs from China lead the way when it comes to the green transition of heavy-duty trucks, with a dominant share of the global market. However, the country has lost some of this share since 2021 as other markets have grown, with domestic OEMs building up their fleets.
In 2021, Chinese OEMs held a 96% share of the global market, while other countries only took a combined share of 4%. The slow shift to a more generalised market began in 2022, with China’s share dropping to 92%. Between January and September 2023, the country held 89%, with the other 11% shared between other regions.
Therefore, Chinese OEMs have seen their market share fall by seven percentage points in two years. This is the result of the green transition picking up in regions such as Europe and the US. As the number of Chinese OEMs in these markets is still relatively small, domestic manufacturers have not been impacted, allowing them to take advantage of their already well-established presence to appeal to regional customers.
Europe’s household names
Figures from the third quarter of 2023 show Volkswagen (VW) Group’s Traton division, led the European electric-truck market with a 37% share. It was followed by AB Volvo (29%) and Daimler Trucks (17%). Together, these three companies accounted for 83% of registrations, with the final 17% made up of all other manufacturers.
From January to September, Traton division, AB Volvo and Daimler Trucks significantly increased their registrations, growing 231%, 342% and 541% respectively year on year. Therefore, while the electric-truck segment is expanding rapidly in Europe, it is doing so without the need for Chinese manufacturers.
A more diverse electric-bus sector
The bus sector’s green transition started much earlier than that of trucks, meaning the market is more developed and diverse.
China does still lead the way, but its share dropped further than in the truck market. While in 2021 the country held a 95% market share, this fell to 90% in 2022. From January to September, the country held 81%. Other markets have eaten into the Chinese advantage, moving from a 5% holding in 2021 to a 19% share in the first three quarters of 2023.
A serious alternative
Unlike the electric-truck market, Chinese penetration in other countries has occurred. Focusing on Europe, domestic manufacturers are starting to offer a serious alternative to established China-based businesses, while the market is more spread out due to the development of green technology in the sector.
In the third quarter of 2023, BYD held a 12% share. However, VW Group, through its Traton division, closed rapidly, ending the period with 11% of the market. Close behind was CAF, which had a 9% market share across the three months.
However, the Traton division has experienced stunning growth in the electric-bus market over the first three quarters of 2023. The company increased its registrations by 242% in the nine-month period, while BYD only improved deliveries by 33%. CAF was also able to close in on BYD, with a 55% registration increase, but far from Traton’s impressive figures.
More to come
There is still a long way to go in the green transition of trucks and buses, as more manufacturers bring their products to market, and further technological developments play a part.
Markets are still in the early stages of a zero-emission push. This means that trends are very much dependent on a number of factors, such as battery development, hydrogen fuel cells for long distances, the market economy, and incentive packages.
All of these elements will play a crucial role in electric-truck and electric-bus uptake, helping propel the green transition of these vehicles further.