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Hitachi picks Pakistan for emerging-market break in electric bus chargers

Japanese group also eyes deals in Middle East for zero-emission infrastructure

The Hitachi group will supply charging infrastructure for electric buses in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy of Hitachi ABB Power Grids)

TOKYO -- Hitachi will help build charging infrastructure for electric buses in Pakistan, part of the Japanese industrial group's search for deals in this sector in South Asia and the Middle East, Nikkei has learned.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids, a subsidiary of the Tokyo-based blue chip, sees emerging markets as an important proving ground for its charging system, which replenishes bus batteries not only at terminals but also in quick bursts at each stop.

Demand for electric buses is projected to surge as Asian nations seek to temper urban sprawl with low-carbon-emissions technology. By 2030, 3 million to 5 million electric buses will be in service worldwide, up from about 500,000 in 2019, the International Energy Agency forecasts.

In Pakistan, Hitachi ABB Power Grids will work with local bus company Daewoo Express and Chinese electric bus maker Sky-well New Energy Automobile Group to build a network. The Hitachi unit has reached a preliminary agreement to supply charging infrastructure for this effort.

Sky-well will supply buses built outside of Pakistan to Daewoo Express, with a view to eventually assembling them in the country.

In the Middle East, Hitachi ABB Power Grids will team with another Chinese bus maker, Yinlong Energy. Charging equipment there will need to be built to withstand searing daytime temperatures and sandstorms.

Emerging markets are home to many cities with underdeveloped urban transportation, giving them a unique opportunity to jump directly to the most advanced zero-emission technology.

Hitachi aims to eventually transfer the know-how it gains in these countries to projects in advanced economies.

The company is not the only Japanese player seeking overseas growth in electric buses. Trading houses Mitsui & Co. and Sumitomo Corp. have enlisted their own international partners in this field.

Shares in Tokyo-listed Hitachi -- whose businesses span power grids, trains, factory automation and appliances --  reached a roughly 20-year high in Tokyo trading on Friday, lifted by forecasts that the company is headed toward a record net profit for the second year in a row.

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