Electric mobility is experiencing a major expansion in Europe and in France through a global movement for more ecological transport. The regulatory framework is increasingly encouraging and this trend is set to grow stronger in the coming years. Discover in this article the regulations and the different aids for the ecological transition of your bus fleet.
A global European movement for greener transport
The Green Deal for Europe
In 2019, the European Commission presented the Green Deal for Europe, a roadmap to make Europe climate neutral by 2050. Since then, Europe has been gearing up for a massive electrification of transport
The European Green Pact aims to be carbon neutral by 2050. More specifically with the "sustainable mobility" aspect of the Green Deal, the European Commission is proposing several courses of action, in particular by strengthening the production and deployment of clean mobility and related recharging or refueling infrastructure with a target of one million recharging and refueling stations by 2025 for 13 million low and very low emission vehicles, while also strengthening existing standards on atmospheric pollutants.
The Green Deal adopted by the European Commission sets a clear target: by 2050, transport emissions must be reduced by 90% compared to 1990 levels. To this end, the transition from the use of fossil fuels for mobility to the use of alternative fuels or electric mobility must be accelerated.
A greening by jumps
The conversion of buses to less polluting engines takes place regularly. As the life of a bus is relatively long, the renewal of the fleet takes some time but the question arises at least at the end of each operating lease. The cost of energy is a trigger and the local presence of refueling facilities is also a criteria to consider.
There are many choices of engine that can be used to make fleets greener. Starting with a diesel engine, one can keep this fuel and opt for Euro6 engines, choose to use natural gas for vehicles or opt for a more electric solution via the fuel cell, hybrid engine or battery-powered electric bus.
Restricted traffic zones (ZCR) have become low emission mobility zones. Their introduction is now mandatory. Municipalities or their Public Establishment for Inter-municipal Cooperation (EPCI) can use the introduction of Crit'air stickers to restrict traffic to certain categories of vehicles, including buses.
While the introduction of m-FEZs is leading to a shift towards greener transport solutions, it can also be seen that political motivation and the desire to live in a healthier environment is leading to an equally rapid conversion in smaller towns and cities.
Regulatory renewal obligations in France
Mobility Orientation LawPublished on 26 December 2019, the LOM (Loi d'Orientation des Mobilités) aims to combat climate change, air pollution, noise pollution and preserve biodiversity. It reaffirms France's determination to end sales of new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles using fossil fuels by 2040, but also to achieve complete decarbonisation of the land transport sector by 2050.
Among the key measures undertaken, company fleets will have to be renewed by integrating a minimum share of low greenhouse gas emission vehicles each year, such as those running on electric power. For private and public companies, the quotas to be respected will not be subject to the same deadlines.
Annual fleet renewal criteriaThe State and public institutions, if they directly or indirectly manage a fleet of more than 20 vehicles, must acquire or use at least 50% low-emission vehicles when renewing their fleets each year. Vehicles for operational missions (police, gendarmerie, national defense, civil security) can contribute to this effort.
Local authorities and their groups, as well as national companies, must plan to replace 30% of their vehicles annually with low-emission vehicles from 1 July 2021. For these two categories, it is planned that from 1 January 2026, 37.4% of the vehicles acquired or used during the annual renewal will be very low emission vehicles, in accordance with European standards.
In addition, for fleets of more than 20 buses and coaches, the State, its public establishments, local authorities and their groupings must also comply with quotas during annual renewal :
- a minimum proportion of 50% of low-emission vehicles from 1 January 2020;
- in full from 1 January 2025.
These measures were already present in Decree n°2017-23 of 11/01/2017 taken for the application of article L. 224-8 of the environment code and defining the criteria characterising low emission buses and coaches.
Financing your transition project thanks to the aid set up for the energy transition
Aid for the installation of infrastructure
Several grants are available for the installation of charging infrastructure for electric stations, including :
- MoéBus, which concerns electrification work related to the installation of electric charging stations, modifications or upgrading of electric charging stations. It allows the financing of up to 10% of the work up to a limit of one million euros.
- The reduced rate of the tax on the final consumption of electricity (TICFE) (Article 266 15 C of the Customs Code) concerns electric or rechargeable hybrid buses and allows the user to benefit from a price of €0.50 per MWh consumed.
- The law on the orientation of mobility (order of 12 May 2020 modified by the order of 27 April 2021) facilitates the installation of charging stations on the road, particularly in areas that are currently less densely equipped.
- The recovery plan's objective of 100,000 charging stations open to the public by the end of 2021 marks an acceleration in the mobilisation of participants in this effort, which is accompanied by financial and technical assistance for municipalities: a 75% coverage of connection costs by the distribution network operator and financial assistance through the Advenir programme. This programme contributes to financing, with subsidies, the charging points through the energy saving certificates. It allows bonuses for installations in collective housing, for companies and public entities, for roadside installations, for charging stations and hubs, but also for the modernisation of existing charging points.
Aid for the purchase of vehiclesFor the purchase of vehicles, several forms of assistance are also available :
- The ecological bonus for heavy vehicles allows 40% of the acquisition cost (including tax) of a vehicle to be financed, up to a limit of €30,000. This aid concerns categories M2 and M3 (passenger transport with more than eight seats in addition to the driver) and is valid until 31 December 2022.
- The over-amortisation which allows 20% of the amount of vehicles between 1.6 and 3.5 tonnes, 60% of the amount of vehicles over 16 tonnes and 40% of vehicles over 16 tonnes to be paid. The Climate and Resilience Act extended this scheme until 2030.
- Aid from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which allows up to 100% of the cost of acquiring buses and associated recharging infrastructure to be covered, as well as a controlled interest rate that varies inversely with the price of electricity. This scheme is intended for local authorities and mobility organising authorities.
What are the developments in relation to diesel vehicles at the depot and vehicle level?
Development of deposits
The switch to electric power is a profound change for a depot dedicated to internal combustion buses. There is no longer a fuel tank to refuel the vehicles; the energy will be transported by cable and it cannot be stored unless a specific approach is taken. However, the electrical energy must be available at the depot, in sufficient power to allow the whole fleet to be recharged. This is the first key point to be dealt with when initiating the transition process, as increasing the power at the delivery point may be a project in its own right on the part of the network operator.
As with fuel, the electrical energy supplier will be selected for the suitability of its tariff conditions to the budgetary requirements but also for the advantages it can bring to the depot operator. The right choice of charging infrastructure and associated IT tools can be decisive in obtaining the most competitive rates.
If the energy does not come exclusively from the grid, it may come in part from a nearby photovoltaic installation. It will then be necessary to manage these different sources and possibly provide for battery banks, which are energy reservoirs for storing photovoltaic energy that is temporary.
In-depth modification of the infrastructure
To accommodate a new fleet of electric buses, the car park and adjacent buildings will undergo a major transformation. New electrical substations will be connected to the network, and the electrical panels will eventually be distributed to limit the length of trenches and cables to each charging island. It will also be necessary to manage the computer links of the charging stations and the possible smart-charging or remote monitoring / remote maintenance / supervision system.
The civil engineering department will take care of installing the protection tubes and the stop markers to guide each driver to the ideal charging location.
The energy transition is well underway at European and French level. The various regulations are all moving towards a greener and more ecological transport policy. It is possible to finance the energy transition of a city thanks to the various aids put in place for the installation of charging infrastructures for electric vehicles and the purchase of a fleet of electric buses.