Bus manufacturers and energy experts have told  Sydney’s Sun Herald  that  they think state governments  need to provide the industry with firmer guarantees about how many electric buses they will buy,  as the industry  particularly in  Australia’s eastern states prepare to replace thousands of diesel buses to meet. both the massive 8000 bus fleet  in NSW to meet ambitious targets in that state and also to meet the 2000 electric buses needed before the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

The Victorias, Queensland and the ACT  governments have committed to buying only zero-emission buses from 2025, while NSW has announced ambitious targets to  change all buses in the greater Sydney region to electric by 2035. Bus manufacturers told the Sun Herald that they can build hundreds of buses a year “from tomorrow”, but need more certainty from state governments who purchase and own most of Australia’s public bus fleet.

“We’re ready to go now, hopefully, government will give body builders assurance of supply to enable them to invest in renewable energy [and new technology] on their sites,” Volvo Bus general manager, told the paper.

The story  was published on the eve of Volvo revealing its all-electric bus will be put to the test in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs from next month as part of the Victorian government’s zero emission bus trial. The Victorian government said the trial would inform the transition of about 4000 diesel buses in the state’s public fleet, including about 2200 in regional Victoria, to zero emissions.

The chief commercial officer at Volgren Australia, Yuri Tessari,  said replacing the 500 buses it built each year with electric would be relatively straightforward. Volgren has just finished building the first of  the eight Volvo battery-electric buses which are to be a part of the trial,

“Volgren can start building electric buses ‘from tomorrow’, but state government demand and infrastructure remain issues,” Yuri Tessari said.

“For us, building on an electric chassis or on a diesel chassis is very similar, if the government or the customers want to go fully electric from tomorrow, let’s say, we can start building hundreds,” he added.

The Sun Herald story  said that just 0.1 per cent of buses in Australia are electric, according to a report released by the Australia Institute on Friday. Audrey Quicke, lead transport researcher at the Canberra-based think tank, said the bus industry needed more policy certainty from state governments and financial support from the federal government to plan for a net-zero manufacturing future.

“Electrifying Australia’s bus fleets should be easy because most are publicly owned, if state governments don’t pick this low-hanging fruit soon, we should question the substance of their net-zero commitments,” Quick said