Shenzhen, China – home to more than 11 million people – rolled out a pilot of electric buses all the way back in 2011. Despite being ahead of the electric curve, they had thousands of buses running on diesel until recently. But that will change by the end of 2017, when the megacity’s entire fleet of buses will be electrictrified.

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Shenzhen’s fleet includes 16,000 buses. They’re going completely electric – and will be the first city in the world to attain that goal, according to Fast Company. They had to install a network of thousands of charging stations and ports, and figure out how to handle the expense of replacing all those diesel buses.

Related: Shenzhen, China Launches the World’s Largest Electric Vehicle Fleet

Fast Company pointed out the scale of the transition makes it all the more remarkable. Shenzhen has more buses than the United States’ top five bus fleets combined: in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, New Jersey, and King County, Washington, where Seattle is located.

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The local and national governments played a role in the transition; both offered subsidies to bring the cost of electric buses in line with traditional ones. Falling lithium-ion battery costs have also helped. The buses are cheaper to operate and maintain than diesel-powered ones.

Shenzhen-based automobile manufacturer BYD produced 80 percent of the new buses in the megacity. The company sells its cars in 50 countries, and even surpassed Tesla in 2016 as the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world.

The electric buses are one component of an effort to clean up the megacity’s air. Around 10 years ago, Shenzhen spent around half the days in a year covered in smog. That figure fell to 27 days in 2016. The electricity to power the buses isn’t completely clean yet; some comes from coal. Even so the buses are anticipated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 48 percent compared against diesel ones. Shenzhen also aims to have all of its taxis be electric by 2020.

Via Fast Company

Images via BYD Company Ltd. on YouTube and Wikimedia Commons