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The U.S. Has a Fleet of 300 Electric Buses. China Has 421,000

The rest of the world will struggle for years to match China’s rapid embrace of electric transit.

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Plodding down DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn is a bus moving under the power of an eerily quiet motor. It looks newer than most buses on the route, with a vivid digital display facing the driver and doors that part with a futuristic pneumatic swoosh. Commuters trundling aboard at rush hour don't seem to realize this is one of the few electric buses—300 last year, to be exact—in America.

In China, an electric bus wouldn’t be unusual at all. Out of almost 425,000 e-buses worldwide at the end of last year, some 421,000 were in China. The global e-bus fleet grew about 32% in 2018, according to a BloombergNEF report released Wednesday, with the vast majority hitting the road in China. Europe had only 2,250 electric buses, by BNEF’s count.