Coming of age for EVs with 105-vehicle bid for Manchester

STAGECOACH’S BOLD plan to introduce 105 electric double-decks for Manchester is a welcome sign of the coming-of-age of EV buses. It is however, dependent on winning funding from the impending announcements for the Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme – and this is quite a big ‘if’ since Stagecoach is seeking £21.5million grant for one project in one city from a total fund of £48million. Given that there is a significant non-user benefit from the introduction of electric vehicles, there is a strong case for public funds to be used to supplement private sector investment in transitioning to a low-carbon future. The case for electric vehicles was originally based primarily on carbon, but current concerns regarding local air pollution are now becoming as big a driver. It is vital not to lose sight of the objective of reducing carbon emissions however, particularly since transport is now responsible for the largest proportion of UK CO2 emissions. Of course, while electric vehicles may be zero carbon in terms of the tailpipe, there are potential upstream emissions, although the decarbonisation of the UK electricity grid has seen significant progress in recent years with renewables becoming ever more important and coal being replaced, albeit there is still plenty still to do. When it comes to local air quality however, electric vehicles offer an undeniable win-win and Stagecoach’s move – even if it doesn’t end up with quite 105 EV double-decks on the streets of Manchester by early 2020 as it plans – is a sign of its confidence in the technology being able to deliver, even if it is as yet unconvinced about the full commercial case and will only invest if the government steps in to help.