Sustainable Public Transport: the electric challenge

Sustainable Public Transport: the electric challenge

The CDP Think Tank study estimates the opportunities for the establishment of an Italian electric bus supply chain

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector have more than doubled since 1970, significantly contributing to bringing the planet closer to a point of no return in terms of environmental sustainability. 

A gradual but irreversible transition to zero-emission mobility is essential to achieve climate neutrality. In this scenario, the development of alternative engines, the electrification of energy consumption, the increasing use of renewables, the promotion of shared mobility and vehicle connectivity are essential steps for redesigning modes of transport worldwide and reducing their impact on the environment and people's lives.

According to estimates in a study by CDP Think Tank, there are more than 12 million electric cars on the road globally. Electrification is also spreading rapidly to other segments of road transport, with over one million commercial vehicles, including buses, vans and trucks, and 260 million mopeds, scooters and three-wheelers. 

In this context, the electric LPT segment could offer a significant opportunity to promote the development of low-impact mobility, leveraging both the focus of local administrations and the increasing resources made available by central governments.

While electric buses currently account for only 16% of the total fleet, by 2050 they should account for all new vehicles on the road. In Europe, this growing demand will also be fuelled by Recovery Plan resources. For example, the Italian NRRP includes 3.6 billion euros for vehicle fleet renewal, in addition to the 3.7 billion euros allocated in the National Plan for Sustainable Mobility. The planned resources should contribute to the purchase of more than 10,000 low-emission buses over a period of six to ten years, enabling a gradual replacement of a very outdated fleet.

All this represents an opportunity to stimulate the growth of an Italian supply chain that currently has only three end manufacturers of electric buses in a highly concentrated sector, with China holding over 90% of the market. 

A strong public-private partnership is therefore needed to prevent the considerable resources available from being used to finance more competitive foreign operators. This requires a timely allocation of resources in line with the national industry's development timeframe and the availability of capital capable of adequately sizing operators, while strengthening a highly specialised workforce.