As cities across Europe implement measures to achieve ambitious environmental strategies, there is pressure on the public transport sector to decarbonise as fast as possible.

Electric buses taking charge

European cities are increasingly buying zero-emission buses. More than one in three newly-registered urban buses in 2023 in the EU was fully electric.

The last three years have recorded steady growth, with battery electric buses accounting for 36% of new EU registrations in 2023, building on 27% in 2022, and 20% in 2021.

1 in 3new urban buses registered in the EU in 2023 was fully electric

2027The date by when 100% of new urban buses would need to be zero emission if demand continues on its current growth path

2035The year by when all new vans sold in the EU must be zero emission

Meeting the demand for zero-emission buses

Cities are ditching fossil fuels fast – typically starting with their own public transport fleets – and they want more zero-emission buses as quickly as possible. Some bus-makers are stepping up, with Daimler and MAN, for example, pledging that all their new urban buses will be zero emission by 2030.

Notwithstanding the strong progress on zero-emission buses, there remains a lot of work to do: 64% of new city buses in Europe are still either entirely fossil-fuelled (27% diesel), or overwhelmingly fossil (22% hybrid and 14% gas).

If demand continues along its current growth path, European cities will want 100% of new urban buses to be zero emissions by as early as 2027. The missing ingredient has been an EU law that matches demand through a requirement on manufacturers to only supply zero-emission city buses.

The EU's regulation to cut emissions from new city buses (as well as trucks and coaches), also called the CO2 standards for heavy-duty vehicles, is the right tool to drastically reduce climate emissions and improve the air quality in cities.

However, the recently agreed zero-emission sales target of 90% in 2030 and 100% in 2035 is not sufficient to clean up buses fast enough. T&E has therefore been advocating for a 100% sales target for zero-emission urban buses already in 2027 as a number of environmental organisations and cities have called for.