The Global School Bus Market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.4%, during the forecast period.
The increasing adoption of electric vehicles in the commercial vehicle segment has influenced the school bus segment, which is expected to drive the global school bus market during the forecast period. The advantage of school buses over other modes of transport is also one of the reasons that will help the growth of the market. School buses are generally built with high crash standards, protective seating, rollover protection, large windows for increased visibility and other features such as distinct paint color (in some regions), flashing lights. According to NHTSA, school buses are 70% safer than cars.
In the major North American countries, school transport is very organized and has been in existence since many decades. China is one other major market, where the whole country is seeing a transition towards electric buses, which could influence even school buses and thus the overall market.
The market is mostly dominated by players from US, Canada, China and India. IC engine buses are expected to have a larger share whereas electric school buses are expected to be the fastest growing segment.
Owing to the increased level of awareness among rising population, the global student enrolment rate has gone up to 89.41% in 2018 which is expected to further fuel the growth of the market. Local parents preferring international schools for their kid has led to a rise in the number of international schools. International schools are growing at an annual rate of nearly 7%.
In US, School bus market is also influenced by level of spending by municipalities. This spending level is affected by property tax collection, municipal budgeting and housing prices. Deterioration of any of these factors may result in stagnant or negative growth of the market.
School bus manufacturers are now focusing on connected buses that will include passenger management system that shares vehicle and passenger information regarding maintenance and safety.
Key Market Trends
Increasing Demand for Electric Buses
More than 95% of the school buses worldwide run on fossil fuels especially diesel. Numerous studies worldwide have shown that inhaling diesel exhaust causes respiratory diseases such as asthma and are pronounced especially in children who are the main commuters. Replacing all the school buses of only America itself with electric buses could avoid an average of 5.3 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year.
Due to the aforementioned reasons, electric buses are becoming an increasing option in place of conventional diesel buses. Electric buses give out zero emissions and their annual operating cost is almost half of a diesel bus. In Shenzhen, China, it is expected that the incentives for transit electric buses would also be extended towards school buses, thus increasing their adoption. Few states in the United States such as California, New York etc. and Quebec in Canada are also testing and adopting electric buses which is expected to drive the market.
Detroit Connect Virtual Technology now comes factory installed in all US school buses equipped with DD5 and DD8 engines.
US Government has mandated the use of Electronic stability control and Collision Mitigation systems in all the school buses in US. Electronic stability system prevents the driver from losing the control of vehicle. Through an array of sensors, the system monitors the chassis and intervenes on wet, black ice by automatic de-throttling and braking. Collision mitigation system consists of Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane Departure Warning System and speed alerts.
North America poised to be the largest market for school buses
The school bus market in North America is expected to grow at a rate close to 4% over the next five years. In US, 50% of students take school bus. Transportation to and from schools and for activity trips in the US is provided either by the district schools who operate their own fleets or by private companies in partnership with these schools. Private companies transport approximately one-third of the country’s schoolchildren. A fleet of nearly 598,000 buses transports 26 million US and Canadian children on a daily basis. Almost 177,000 of the buses are in service for more than 15 years. This factor can propel the sale of new school buses that comply with current emission and safety standards. Registrations of Type C and Type D school buses are expected to grow at the annual rate of 2%. The number of new school buses in the region have been increasing since 2012 (post-recession) and in 2018, there were 44,381 sales. Of these, majority of them i.e. 39,692 were from the US and 4,689 were from Canada.
Due to stringent emission rules set up by government, school bus OEMs are now introducing models that use alternative fuels like propane. School Bus manufacturer Blue Bird partnered with Ford Motor Company and Roush Clean Tech to introduce 2 propane engines- .05g/bhp-hr NOx and .02g/bhp-hr NOx propane engines. These engines have emission levels as low as 10% of current emission standards.
Canadian school buses are more or less similar to their US counterparts both in terms of design and usage by school systems. Buses are sometimes marketed to customers in Canada differently than in the US. For instance, the Blue Bird All American was rebadged as the Blue Bird TX3 in Canada. Micro Bird and Lion Electric Company are the major school bus manufacturers from Canada.
In Mexico, along with the yellow school buses seen from the United States, various other types of buses are used for student transport. Depending on capacity needs, vans and minibuses are also used. Mexico mainly imports used and old school buses from the US, but some newer ones are also imported and used school service. The school bus market is still in the nascent stage in Mexico with very few manufacturers having a production plant in the country.
The global school bus market is neither a fragmented nor consolidated one. The market is characterized by the presence of major school bus manufacturers who also cater to other countries. Most of the companies are concentrated in the North American and Asian geographies. Blue Bird Corporation, IC Bus, Thomas Built Buses Inc, Yutong Buses, King Long Buses are some of the major players who are expected to occupy a considerable share of the market.
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