In China, about 150,000 large and mid-size buses will be sold this year. Although this only accounts for 1% of Chinese total automobile sales, China is nearly a half of global bus market. Daimler expected global bus market volume to total approximately 310,000 units this year in March.
Compared with European buses, Chinese buses are relatively inexpensive and arguably fairly disposable, currently no European companies export buses to China, owing to the dominance of local manufactruers, of course there are some special exceptions, i.e. event use. Most 12-meter city buses and coaches are priced between 500,000 to 1,000,000 RMB (57,000 to 114,000 Euros), which is just one third of the price in Europe. The low price is partly because of the low labor cost in China, but the poorer quality and performance are also the reasons. Bus safety is now a major issue these days
On September 14, a 12-meter-long inter city shuttle bus dodged a van and rolled over on Shanghai S20 highway. 24 people were in the 47-seater bus. 11 were killed including the driver and the others were all injured.
It is amazing that nearly half people can be killed in such â€˜slightâ€™ accident, because the bus did not dash out the road. But according to the report, about 10 people flied out from the window, as well as many seats.
Prof. Wang Hongyan, an expert on vehicle passive safety from Tongji University, said if ESP were equipped, the bus would not roll over on that occasion. Wang also added that seat belts are very important in accidents to avoid people being flung from the vehicle.
ESP sounds like fancy equipment for the Chinese bus industry. None of the bus builders will introduce ESP in the near future, except Ankai, who is adjusting its ESP in Germany. Yet seat belts can be popularized more easily because of the lower cost. Since most buses on Chinese road do not provide seat belt for passengers now, government should make corresponding regulations as soon as possible.
Additionally, body strength is also the problem. Like local brand cars, Chinese lower-cost buses also have weaker strength. Compared with ESP and seat belt, body strength is harder to be improved at the mercy of Chinese existing manufacturing capacity.