Proterra composite-bodied bus travels 258 miles on single charge

The composite bus aims to be a drop-in replacement for any bus route in the U.S.

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Proterra (Greenville, SC, US) says its 40-foot Catalyst XR bus drove 258 miles on a single charge under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds (LPG). The company claims that the Catalyst’s range demonstration marks a significant step toward Proterra’s goal of providing a high-performance bus that can serve any typical transit route in the U.S.

The Catalyst XR configuration included eight battery packs, with a total energy capacity of 257kWh. Based on these test results, Proterra predicts its 10-pack XR configuration (321kWh) will achieve 300 miles on a single charge. According to available General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data, typical urban and rural bus routes in the United States run less than 200 miles a day, bringing most routes within reach of Proterra’s current technology.

“The purpose-driven Catalyst design affords the best efficiency rating ever for a 40-foot transit bus, at 22 MPG equivalent,” said John Sleconich, chief engineer at Proterra. “Proterra buses are the only mass transit vehicle built from the ground up as an electric vehicle. With a unique aerodynamic body made from carbon fiber and advanced composite materials, we are able to reduce mass for maximum efficiency.”

The curb weight is about 27,370 lb and the company says the Proterra Catalyst is not only lighter than any other electric bus, but is also more durable than buses made of aluminum or steel and less prone to corrosion. The transit industry has traditionally struggled with vehicle weight, especially for new technologies like hybrid, CNG and EV. By designing the vehicle from the ground-up, using the most advanced technology and materials, Proterra has eliminated the vehicle weight concern for EV.

Beyond meeting a given route’s minimum range requirements, Proterra electric vehicles are poised to make a significant impact on the transit market because of the Catalyst’s low operational cost per mile compared to diesel, CNG, and diesel-hybrid buses. Over the 12-year life of a bus, Proterra customers will dramatically reduce maintenance costs, saving around $135,000.

“The U.S. is quickly waking up to the economic, environmental, and performance benefits of zero-emission electric buses,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple. “While diesel buses pollute our communities and are increasingly more costly to own and operate, Proterra is pushing the bounds of EV technology and steadily driving down costs. Achieving this range is validation for our technology and gives us the confidence that Proterra is capable of what we initially set out to accomplish – replacing every fossil fuel bus in the United States with a fully electric one."