• Feb 8th 2009 at 5:46PM
  • 24

Proterra
has begun a 4-city "California Clean Bus Tour" with the unveiling of its EcoRide B35 all-electric transit bus in San Jose. The lightweight, composite-bodied people mover features the 10 minute recharge-capable TerraVolt™ Energy Storage System, said to be based around batteries from Altairnano, and motors from UQM Technologies. Its regenerative brakes can recapture up to 90 percent of the vehicle's kinetic energy and help it achieve a range between 30 and 40 miles. Although, like many alternative drivetrains, it has a higher upfront pricetag than its diesel counterparts, the company estimates the difference can be absorbed well before the end of its expected 12-year life through lower energy and maintenance costs. Proterra also has a plug-in hydrogen fuel cell version of the bus that will begin service in Burbank this Spring.

California has a mandate that dictates 15 percent of all buses added to fleets after 2011 be zero-emission vehicles. Founder and CTO of the Golden, Colorado company, Dale Hill says, ""The fact is, emissions free transit is not a 'nice to have,' it is a must have for clean, healthy communities across California and the U.S." Indeed it is, Mr. Hill. Full press release after the break.

[Source: Proterra]

PRESS RELEASE:

Proterra Brings Future of Green Commercial Transit To California Cities With Zero Emission Clean Bus Tour
Proterra Unveils EcoRide BE35 Zero-Emission in San Jose

San Jose, CA - Proterra, the leading innovator and manufacturer of clean commercial transit solutions from city transit buses to class 4-8 trucks, kicked-off its first ever California Clean Bus Tour in San Jose with the unveiling of its zero emission fast-charge battery-electric transit bus. The EcoRide BE35 is designed to help communities significantly reduce air and noise pollution while dramatically reducing vehicle operating costs.

After the initial launch in San Jose, Proterra will make stops in selected California cities including Los Angeles, Sacramento, and San Francisco. Proterra will be meeting with energy, environmental, and municipal stakeholders as it introduces its clean transit solutions to help the state meet its emission reduction goals. The EcoRide BE35 results in up to a 400 percent improvement in fuel economy, and up to $310,000 savings in total lifetime fuel expenses as compared to a conventional diesel bus and over $15 million in savings for a transit bus fleet of 50.

"The fact is, emissions free transit is not a 'nice to have,' it is a must have for clean, healthy communities across California and the U.S.," said Dale Hill, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Proterra. "That is why we're thrilled to bring our clean transit solutions to California - where transit agencies need an economical solution available today to make progress toward recent emissions standards passed by the California Air Resources Board."

Proterra's Approach

Built from the ground-up as a battery-electric zero emission transit vehicle in Colorado, Proterra's transit solution boasts innovative advancements that significantly reduce the lifetime cost of ownership including:

* TerraVolt™ Energy Storage System - the industry's only system that can be fully charged in less than 10 minutes; and the longest lasting energy storage system available for heavy duty applications;
* Flexible ProDrive™ and vehicle control system that can operate in battery-electric mode or with any small auxiliary power unit (APU) to extend vehicle range when needed;
* All-electric components optimized through vehicle management systems to rduce energy usage throughout the vehicle's operating cycle;
* Regenerative braking system utilizing the UQM PowerPhase 150 that enables the EcoRide BE35 to recapture over 90% of the vehicle's kinetic energy available during braking; and
* Sophisticated battery management system operates at the 'cell' level to optimize energy efficiency and system life.

Fighting Harmful Diesel Pollutants

Proterra's focus on the California market is directly related to the state's high pollution levels, much of which are tracked back to diesel engines. The Clean Air Task Force notes that by reducing diesel fine particle emissions 50 percent by 2010, 75 percent by 2015, and 85 percent by 2020 would save nearly 100,000 American lives between now and 2030.

"California is a high priority for Proterra since five of the top 10 most polluted cities in America are located there, according to the American Lung Association's 2008 State of the Air Report," said Jeff Granato, President and CEO, Proterra. "The solution is in our hands to help cities reduce air and noise pollution, and the state and federal policies are also in place to begin to take clean commuting from a vision to a reality in 2009. We're excited to introduce the EcoRide BE35 to California as an immediate next step transit agencies can take to achieve emissions free transit."

About Proterra

Answering the international call for efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible transit solutions, Colorado based Porterra has been designing and manufacturing the world's most efficient commercial vehicle technologies since 2004. With hybrid and battery-electric buses that are built from the ground-up in Colorado, Proterra has patented clean transit technology serving the commercial sector with solutions for city transit buses to class 4-8 trucks.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 24 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      Just for the record, for those of you who would like to see quiet, pollution-free (in the city, anyway) bus service, there is a proven alternative that is in use in hundreds of cities around the world: the trolleybus.

      If you're running the same route all day every day, it makes sense to string wires and be done with it. (And in many cases it makes sense to put down rails as well, then you only need one overhead wire and no overhead switches).

      There are ultracapacitor systems used with light rail vehicles (no reason they couldn't be used with trolleybuses) which would make it possible to avoid having any wires in "visually sensitive" areas. I mention this because ultracapacitors do not have the same discharge cycle limitation that batteries do.

      I can see a use for the battery-powered bus described in this article - basically, anywhere with inadequate traffic to justify stringing trolley wire - but I think an analysis of life cycle costs should be carefully performed before choosing one over the other. If the batteries can be shown to be durable enough, and the added energy cost of lugging them around all day is low enough relative to stringing wire, then sure, why not - they would be a vast improvement over diesel buses.
        • 8 Months Ago
        I agree with the concept of electric trolley. They used to wok very well until GM and Firestone and 2 oil companies got involved. Looks like we can thank GM for killing more than just the electric passenger car.

        http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/549.html
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is excellent. i think I see a business opportunity looming to be honest. i would ride this bus any day of the week. Having lived in Europe and commuted daily on buses and Trains, I know the effects busses have on your health in general. i can only imagine walking down the street and being able to breath in the city centers around the country. Get those diesel guzzlers off the road!!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      They 'potentially can outlast the life of the vehicle,' they claim." (quoted from thestandard.com) I call hogwash on that one. I'm not sure about this 35' composite vehicle, but FTA purchased buses have a required usable lifetime of 12 years. There is no way a lithium ion battery pack can last 12 years especially if it being charged "in 10 mins". What is that 2C, 4C charging rate? I'm all in favor of new battery technologies in transportation, it seems it's easier to get a bus than a car, but this really sounds like false marketing hype. As the technology progresses, it will be very important to manage customer's (and the publics') expectations otherwise the boulder we are trying to push up hill will become to big and overwhelm the true technological leaps.

      -RL
      • 6 Years Ago
      CNCMike,

      I rode on one of the electric trolley-buses that JustZisGuy[0] mentioned when I visited Seattle a couple of years ago. They're fine -- though the sound of the contacts running on the wires and the sparks make them seem not-entirely-Utopian. Still, they worked very well when we rode the buses around for a night of merriment on New Years Eve.

      I'm still wondering about some of the finer points of putting together the network, especially happens if the driver steers off-course and disconnects from the wires -- but I imagine whatever happens involves a tractor, an electrician, and a long series of four-letter words from the shift-supervisor. :-)

      -Luke

      [0] How's the left cranium? I need a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster...
        • 8 Months Ago
        They still use them in San Francisco. The buses jump the wires several times a day. Although given the number of miles the buses log each day, perhaps that's not so bad. Most of the time the operator can get the bus back on the wires well enough to drive it back under the wires proper and a tow is not needed. But sometimes...

        The wires overhead are not pretty. I don't know if ultra capacitors could fix this or not, I'm rather skeptical of ultra capacitors.

        Trolleybuses are not the same as streetcars, BTW. Streetcars required dedicated tracks down the center of streets and those tracks required maintenance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      (this time...) ... are in the less than 10 mile range. (I think the "less than" symbol was messing up my posts). A lot of these routes have a Metro station at one end, so there's definitely potential for a few high power electrical hook-ups to provide for the fast charging.
      • 6 Years Ago
      30-40 miles is a joke. And I doubt the city can affordably put in the infrastructure required to charge this bus in 10 minutes. Not that the batteries would last more than a few weeks if charged at that rate anyway.

      Even if the batteries are good for 1,000 cycles (as Apple brags about with their new extended life battery in the 17" MacBook, normal lions are more like 300), then at 8 charges and discharges per day, the batteries would still be wrecked after only 4 months.
        • 6 Years Ago
        As mentioned in the post, the batteries are thought to be from Altairnano which have a high cycle capability. http://www.autobloggreen.com/2006/10/27/nanosafe-battery-tests-show-minimal-loss-of-charge-capacity/

        They can be charged with a grid connected 250 kW charger. http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/05/30/aerovironment-successfully-quick-charges-altair-nanotechnologie/

        • 8 Months Ago
        Why would "30 - 40 miles" be a "joke"? Granted, it wouldn't be suitable for cross-country, but this bus isn't meant for that. Most urban bus routes are much less than 30 miles.

        The Altairnano batteries used are well adapted to quick charging, and can handle over 15,000 charging cycles with minimal degradation. 15,000 cycles x 30 miles = 450,000 miles. Sounds like the batteries will outlast the bus!

        Yes, the infrastructure and the bus would cost money, but maintenance and operation costs are much less than for diesel, so it would eventually pay for itself.

        Yes, a Tesla Roadster is a smaller vehicle, but it goes over 200 miles per charge. A 40 Kwh charge might well be enough for a 40 mile range on a large bus. If not, well, there's nothing preventing them from making a more powerful charger.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Where did you get the info that the maintenance and operation costs are less than for a Diesel?

        Electric vehicles are more efficient, but 40kWh is not much more than a gallon of gas electrical equivalent. It is not going to move this bus 40 miles.

        I suppose to a person who thinks making a 250kW charger is no big deal, making an even bigger one seems like no big deal. No problem. A 1 3/4" cable (not counting jacket) can carry 1000 amps, and a 10' section will only weigh about 40lbs. Let's do it!

        Then we'll be able to put 80kW in in 10 minutes (at an unrealistic 100% efficiency), which is still not going to get the bus nearly 40 miles!
        • 8 Months Ago
        The operating costs are less because the per mile fuel cost of electricity is about 1/4 the cost of diesel. The maintenance costs are less as electric motors don't require oil changes, tune-ups or filters, the transmission is a simple single speed gearbox with no shifting or clutch, far fewer moving parts, and thanks to regenerative braking there is much less wear on the brake drums and pads.

        One gallon of gasoline is approx. 35.9 Kwh, and one gallon of diesel is approx. 39 Kwh, so you were right there. But efficiency of diesel engines is about 20% to 25% compared to over 95% for electric motors, making electrics about 3.8 to 4.75 times more efficient than diesels. With 8 to 10 mpg fuel economy for a diesel bus, that would indicate an electric bus should have a 30 to 40 mile "mpg equivalent" range - just like they said.

        You've already indicated that a more powerful charger is theoretically possible, though a bit unwieldly, but of course it turns out that an 480 Kw charger might not be needed after all.
        • 8 Months Ago
        A grid connected 250kW charger will only provide 40kWH worth of power (at an unrealistic 100% efficiency) in 10 minutes. That's about enough to charge a Tesla. It won't make a dent in a bus' battery capacity.
      • 6 Years Ago
      30 miles is definitely enough for a city bus....and I can't wait to have these buses!

      The Metro buses driving around L.A. are so loud they sound like thunder! My window is about 200 ft from a bus stop and yet it vibrates like crazy when a bus passes by!!!!
      The noise is so annoying!!!!!!!!!!!
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm not too familiar with city bus routes, but based on my own experiences running errands is 30-40 miles enough range to safely complete a bus route and get back to home base?
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is a super good bus. I will try to make a ride.
      • 6 Years Ago
      There are a lot of bus routes in San Jose (and elsewhere) that are less than 20 miles each way, and which have a 5 to 20 minute layover wait at each end. Put a charger at each end, and its good to go. Even better, a lot of routes terminate at the same place, meaning that one charger could service more than one route!

      If the route was short enough, the charging time could be much less than 10 minutes. With routes under 15 miles (and most routes are under 15 mile) a "less than 5 minute" charge may be possible.

      Sounds like H2 fuel cell powered local transit busses have already been rendered obsolete.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ruddi,

        Hydrogen powered transit busses are not a new idea -- they've been talking about them since I could read, and I'm 30... Also, installing a super-high-amperage electrical outlet is the same problem as installing a hydrogen refueling station. Yes, it's easier because the electric company guys know how to do it -- but if you've ever seen a megawatt "circuit breaker", you'll know what I mean.

        The real problem is finding a source for hydrogen. Most of the commercially available hydrogen that I've heard of is really natural gas with the carbon removed. And, remember, that carbon needs to go somewhere, which is probably the atmosphere. (I guess Airgas or whoever can sell some of it.) Making hydrogen by electrolysis is not nearly as easy as it seems... You need that super-high-amperage electrical outlet to reverse-burn the hydrogen, and it has to deliver all of the energy that you'll get by burning the hydrogen -- and then quite a bit to make up for the inefficiencies inherent in the process. If you're reading carefully, you'll notice that I just described a chemical battery. Hydrogen would be super-neat if it works, but until we start mining the outer solar-system, hydrogen is a chemical battery -- and other chemistries are at least as promising for transportation applications.

        About the only application where it strikes me that hydrogen would be a clear win is aviation -- where the mass of the vehicle is a big deal. Oil has more energy per gallon (per unit volume), but hydrogen has more energy per kilogram (per unit mass). You'd have to redesign the aircraft around the new fuel-tanks and engines, but the folks I know who graduated to go work at Boeing are quite capable of doing that.

        Anyway, I'd love to live in a "hydrogen economy"... But thermodynamics keeps getting in the way. I'll happily settle for rechargeable batteries, though!
        • 6 Years Ago
        The H2 busses are a novel idea, the problems though persist. you need a fueling station, infrastructure would be a problem. Electric simply needs a socket of sorts and pretty you have the central stations where these guys can park the bus after the route charge it up and off you go. Makes more sense as does Natural gas as we have that infrastructure in place.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I agree! There a LOT of applications that this bus is PERFECT for but they MUST make economic sense with a positive ROI over lifespan.
      • 6 Years Ago
      (don't know why my post got cut off) .... are in the
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