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FlixBus testing electric buses, launching intercity service in U.S. this spring

Already a popular option across Europe, German bus service plans to operate in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah

German transit company FlixBus, which operates in 27 countries in Europe, planning U.S. launch this spring

An established German mobility company, FlixBus, plans to expand its low-cost service and test all-electric bus routes, aiming to become a pioneer in a more sustainable form of intercity transit.

The company, which already has established routes in major European cities, will begin testing all-electric Flix-E-Bus service on the roughly 90-mile route between Paris and Amiens, France, in April, and then trial a similar service between Hessen and Baden-Württemberg, Germany, later in the summer.

In addition, the company plans to launch regular service in the U.S. this spring, with routes across California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The company didn’t have specific city-to-city route information yet.

”We want to help shape the future of mobility,” said André Schwämmlein, founder and CEO of FlixBus, in a statement. “Although e-buses are currently much more expensive to buy, we are convinced that this will be a worthwhile investment in the long run, for our company, our customers, and the environment. As a provider, we are demonstrating that this is a potential turning point in mobility.”

The company now serves riders in 27 countries and operates on an Uber-like model, leasing vehicles from smaller operators instead of owning their own large fleet, plugging other buses into its scheduling platform, and offering standardized amenities such as digital booking, on-board movies, and Wi-Fi. Since launching in 2013, FlixBus has provided rides for more than 100 million passengers.

As Laura Bliss observed in CityLab, FlixBus may be entering the stratified and under-developed U.S. intercity bus market at just the right time. Traditional market leaders, such as Greyhound, have cut service for years, while budget options and startups, such as Cabin, have shown there’s demand for new types of service.

The company claims that long-distance passengers reduce their carbon footprint considerably by choosing a bus over a car, reducing emissions by 80 percent. The new Flix—E-Bus service, part of a growing turn towards electric buses by many cities, aims to create an even more sustainable, long-distance service.

“The first all-electric, long-distance bus is a signal to bus manufacturers to drive innovation and develop alternatives to pure diesel vehicles,” says Schwämmlein. “Sustainable mobility is not only about driving business but is also about the social and environmental aspects of traveling.”

In addition to investing in electric buses, FlixBus also plans to invest in train service later this year in Germany.