Only weeks after announcing the results of a huge electric taxi trial, the Chinese city of Shenzhen has stepped into the electric motoring spotlight once again - announcing the creation of the world's largest fleet of electric buses.

Chinese automaker BYD, which makes Shenzhen's electric taxis and is currently trying to launch its models in international markets, announced May 11 that it will be responsible for building a fleet of battery-powered buses for the city, which is located close to the Chinese border with Hong Kong.

The 300 buses will be delivered by August 2011 ahead of the the 2011 International Universiade Games, a university sporting event held every two years, and will put Shenzhen in the record books for boasting the world's largest all-electric bus fleet.

Each one is 12 meters long and can manage 250 kilometres on iron-phosphate batteries, before returning to its base for a half-hour "fast charge".

Uniquely, the buses also incorporate solar panels on the roof, which offset the air-conditioning on board each model and extend the range on sunny days.

With the world's largest all-electric taxi fleet and the world's largest all-electric bus fleet, Shenzhen seems to be pulling away from its competitors in a bid to create the zero-emissions city.

It will take a bold move for one of its peers to rejoin the race - although major capitals aren't out of the game just yet.

A phenomenally-strong take-up of Paris's forthcoming electric car sharing service, Autolib, could strengthen the French capital's hand, especially given the low emissions created by France's energy industry, the source of all that electricity (nearly 80 percent of the country's power is generated using nuclear power plants).

New York also hinted recently that electric transportation is still very much at the forefront of its thinking, selecting Japanese firm Nissan over US automaker Ford to supply the city's new fleet of yellow cabs.

Several commentators at the time speculated that the decision could be related to Nissan's experience with electric vehicles and its willingness to supply New York taxi firms with prototype electric taxis.

Another city might even overtake Shenzhen in terms of alternative-fuel buses - market intelligence firm Pike Research forecasted this week that by 2015 alternative-fuel vehicles will represent over half the new buses delivered that year, compared to just 28 percent of those delivered in 2010.

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