Madeira and Porto Santo islands conducted a demonstration of three electric buses since December 2017 under the Civitas Destinations Project, co-financed by the Horizon 2020 Programme, and coordinated by AREAM and the partnership comprised of the Regional Government of Madeira and local bus operators, namely Horários do Funchal, Sociedade de Automóveis da Madeira and Moinho Rent-a-Car.
In December 2017, the test was run with the e.City Gold, a 100% electric urban bus developed in Portugal by CaetanoBus. The test aimed to evaluate the technical feasibility of the operation of electric buses on the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo, and to support local actors in defining a strategy for the decarbonization of the bus service sector. This electric bus provided an 86% saving of energy costs (about 50 Euro/100km) and produced less 75% of CO2 emissions (about 130 kg CO2/100km) when compared to Diesel buses. Due to the energy savings, it was found that the additional investment compared to a Diesel bus is recovered in less than seven years.
In September 2018 and August 2019, the Karsan Jest Electric minibus was tested in Madeira and in Porto Santo. This minibus was operating a regular urban public transport service in Funchal (2018) and in Porto Santo (2019). It was also tested as a shuttle bus for a tourist hiking attraction in the Laurissilva Forest, a Natural World Heritage Site in Madeira. In Funchal, the average consumption of the minibus was 0,36 kWh/km and emissions were 14 kg CO2/100km, while a similar Diesel minibus would be 51 kg CO2/100km. This bus proved to be well suited to the urban transport service in Funchal and for that reason, the operator Horários do Funchal purchased 5 minibuses in 2019, with the support of the ERDF, to operate in the city centre. These buses have been in operation for several months and proved to be a good choice for the city centre and the main tourist areas of Funchal.
In March 2020, a demonstration with the Karsan Atak electric bus was carried out in Madeira. Karsan Atak is a medium-sized bus with the capacity of 52 passengers and a maximum range of 300 km. Due to its medium size and geometry, it is suitable to the narrow and hilly streets of Funchal. The bus has been tested in many bus routes and shows to be appropriate for 70% of the bus routes of Horários do Funchal, which is remarkable considering the physical restrictions of many streets and roads in Funchal.
The demonstration showed that the electric buses are technically feasible, cost-effective and environmentally more favourable in relation to conventional fuelled buses and have suitable power and torque for the required demand and road slopes in Madeira.