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Paris fights smog with biggest ever EU electric bus purchase, 800 e-buses to replace diesel

Paris’ public transport operator announced it has ordered up to 800 new electric buses for the capital city, replacing older diesel buses in the process.

City transport operator RATP said the electric buses would be used to fight smog prior to the 2024 Summer Olympics, according to AFP. Paris will host the Olympics in July-August 2024.

RATP said three separate firms won the tender to supply the buses — Heuliez Bus, Bollore and Alstom. The deals are worth “up to 400 million euros” ($450 million). It’s the biggest bus purchase of its kind in Europe.

RATP said it would buy an equal number of buses from each supplier, though it’s unclear how if the city is ordering exactly 800 buses. The report did say “up to 800” buses, so perhaps 798 will be the final number (though we’re just speculating here).

The transport operator will buy 150 buses first, with deliveries expected “between the end of 2020 and 2022.”

Parisian Goals

Paris has pledged to buy only all-electric buses starting in 2025. Local officials said they’re aiming for 100 percent “clean buses” by the same year, though they’ll also apparently be using biofuel buses to reach that goal.

One Paris bus line currently uses all-electric buses. But even with this latest order, it will be a major task to transform the city’s full fleet of 4,700 buses — AFP reports that RATP currently has “some 950 hybrid-powered buses, 140 bio-fuel buses and 83 electric buses in its fleet.”

RATP chief executive Catherine Guillouard said the order was a major step, but acknowledged that “to put them into service, the company is mobilized to meet an industrial challenge within a very short tight deadline.”

AFP notes that Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has made tackling smog “a priority.” Paris wants to phase out diesel cars by 2024, and the city previously set a goal of only allowing electric cars in the city by 2030.

Electrek’s Take

An electric bus size of this order adds perspective to what’s going on across the globe. A recent order of just 20 electric buses will give the University of Georgia one of the largest electric bus fleets in the U.S. On the other side of the ledger, Paris’ 800 e-bus order pales in comparison to the 16,000+ strong fully electric bus fleet of Shenzhen, China.

There are some questions about how Paris actually plans on meeting its goals — what is the city doing with those hybrid buses? And is the city also going to keep buying more biofuel buses until 2025, rather than just ordering more electric buses?

If the end goal is all-electric, there’s a way to go — this huge order still only represents about 17 percent of the city’s total fleet. But it’s a strong push in the right direction, and Paris is showing a commitment to the cause.

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