Bioethanol Buses

Bioethanol buses give large reductions of carbon dioxide, but cost more to run than conventional diesel buses.

Ethanol Economy buses
Higher purchase price
The price to buy a Scania bioethanol bus is around 10 % higher than that of an equivalent diesel bus. The E100 buses developed by Dongfeng cost around EUR 35,000 per bus in total, which is EUR 1,000 more than a conventional petrol bus.

More expensive maintenance
At the European sites, the cost to operate bioethanol buses was higher than those of diesel buses due to more frequent maintenance. The costs of scheduled maintenance are about twice as high as for diesel buses. Further, Madrid’s experience suggests that unscheduled maintenance costs were lower for bioethanol buses than for other bus types.

Higher fuel costs and taxes
Fuel costs are significantly higher for bioethanol buses. One important reason is that the energy content of ED95 is lower than that of diesel. This means that a bioethanol bus needs around 70 % more fuel in terms of volume compared to a diesel bus.

Fuel consumption varies considerably depending on traffic. The fuel consumption of buses that operated in heavy city traffic (Madrid) and on hilly routes (São Paolo) was between 0.97 and 1.32 l/km. The Scania buses that operated in suburban traffic in La Spezia and Stockholm, used between 0.59–0.74 l/km.

Taxation by energy and emissions needed
In some countries, like Spain and Sweden, bioethanol is exempt from fuel tax. However, in countries where tax applies, fuel is often taxed per litre and not based on energy content. Therefore, a bioethanol bus requiring 70 % more fuel by volume will pay 70 % more tax than a diesel bus, as was the case in La Spezia.

Results from BEST suggest that taxing bus fuels by energy content and carbon dioxide emissions may be a way to support a growing market for alternative fuels. Energy performance is a more appropriate measure for comparison between different fuels than volume.