Electric vs Natural Gas vs Diesel Fuel Buses

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Electric vs Natural Gas vs Diesel Fuel Buses

by The Coach Team

We know that a group of people traveling on a charter tour bus is so much better for the environment than everyone driving their own cars to get to the destination. One bus uses about five percent of the fuel amount that 50 cars would burn, and the cars emissions would be 78 pounds of CO2 compared to just 4 pounds for the bus. That is a substantial reduction.

An infographic displaying that one bus is more energy efficient than fifty cars.

Where is the highway heading in the future?

Alternative to Fossil Fuels

Right now in China, electric buses account for about 70 percent of their total new bus sales. Globally, greater than 90 percent of electric bus vehicles are in that country.

In America, because of the strict emission standards, California leads the way in buses in electric and fuel cell buses.

In both China and California, the increasing amount of alternative fuel buses is being driven by governmental incentives and restrictions.

Electric buses are eight times more energy efficient than those that run on natural gas. Another big plus is in maintenance. There are fewer moving parts, and they generally require less repairs over time.

Initial Cost Comparisons for Bus Types

At this point in time, the electric bus vehicle purchase cost is in the neighborhood of $700,000. By comparison, natural gas and diesel buses are less expensive at about $550,000 (natural gas) and $490,000 (diesel). That is a consideration.

Trends, however, are moving in the electric direction, albeit slower than many had thought. Estimates are that by 2025, electric buses will command approximately 15 percent of the United States market.

The Slow Movement Over to Electric Bus Vehicles

A artist's rendition of a blue electric bus with a black power cord projecting out the back.Little by little it is happening.

The infrastructure has to change to accommodate the amount of charging stations necessary in the future. An electric charge currently takes longer than filling a bus tank up with diesel fuel. That down time of the vehicle has to be factored in and scheduled diligently, as does the service employees to oversee that the vehicles in a fleet are charged sufficiently for their next scheduled usage.

As far as purchases go, fleets of buses have to incrementally change over to electric if there is a commitment to do so,  in sync with current vehicles reaching their shelf life and retired from service, or sold to other operators. Bus manufacturers are targeting segments like school districts who have the inclination to go green as soon as possible. It is a good display to children to have a school not just talk about helping to save the planet – but actually participating in a very visible way to contribute to that endeavor.

Diesel and natural gas buses have gotten more fuel efficient, and are dependable vehicles. Compelling reasons to go electric have to be compelling to spark a more rapid switch-over.

As time progresses, these are some things that can create a more active change over to electric bus vehicles:

  • Electric technology vehicle costs and prices drop down
  • Charging systems for fleet vehicles and the scheduling of re-charging becomes more easily incorporated into bus routes and service
  • Government expedites this change with increased incentives and/or regulations
  • The mantra in the USA becomes louder for green initiatives


When some or all of this happens, it is anticipated that the future will see more alternative fuel bus vehicles gliding down the roads.

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