The world market for buses is projected to grow 5% annually to 632,000 units in 2016, approaching $64 billion in sales, according to “World Buses,” a new study from The Freedonia Group Inc., a Cleveland-based industry market research firm.
Much of the gains will be attributable to Type C school buses, demand for which will skyrocket from 26,000 units in 2011 to 70,000 units in 2016. The increase will largely be driven by market advances in China, where sales of Type C buses will expand rapidly from a small existing base because of safety concerns about other types of buses currently used to transport students. Growth in demand for motorcoaches, transit buses and all other buses will, in the aggregate, be much more moderate, averaging 3.7% per year through 2016, a pace consistent with longer term trends.
Transit bus sales will rise at the next fastest rate behind Type C school buses, spurred by efforts to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality as urban populations continue to grow; volatile fuel costs, making bus transportation more attractive to commuters; and the ongoing development of public transportation infrastructures, including bus rapid transit systems, in a number of developing countries. The market for motorcoaches, which account for the largest portion of global bus demand, will increase at a somewhat slower pace, fueled by rising per capita incomes and vacation travel spending.
The Asia/Pacific region will register the fastest market advances through 2016, fueled by robust economic growth and the expansion of urban transit systems, particularly in China and India. China alone will account for three-fifths of all new bus demand between 2011 and 2016.
The U.S. will also record above average increases, as bus demand rebounds following a dramatic drop in sales from 2006 to 2011. Product demand in Western Europe and Japan will also recover from recent lows, although the expected rates of growth will not be nearly as strong as in the U.S. Bus sales in these areas will be stimulated by generally healthy economic conditions and higher tax revenues, providing government agencies with the revenues needed to replace older vehicles and expand current fleets. In Central and South America, on the other hand, demand for buses is expected to decline modestly between 2011 and 2016.