This fast-charging bus maker got some fast money, as Proterra has raised $23 million in a recent round of equity financing. Proterra, which says it makes the world's first battery electric bus built especially for fast chargers, has tripled orders of its EcoRide model within the past year. For the record, other companies are working on fast-charging electric buses.

The latest funding round for the South Carolina-based company included GM Ventures, Hennessey Capital and previous investors Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Mitsui. Proterra's customers include the Tallahassee, Florida transit authority StarMetro, which ordered three EcoRide buses and a quick-charge station last fall. You can read more in Proterra's press release below.
Show full PR text
Proterra Closes $23M Series B Investment on Accelerating Sales Growth

Company closes 2012 with seven transit authority customers on board;

Hennessey Capital leads round with top tier investors

GREENVILLE, S.C., November 21, 2012 – Proterra Inc, the leading provider of zero-emission commercial transit solutions and maker of the world's first battery-electric fast-charge transit bus, the EcoRide™, has closed a $23 million Series B financing round amid rising demand for its transit solutions. Proterra has tripled orders under contract for the company's flagship EcoRide™ from public transit agencies in the past twelve months alone and is planning for its current growth path to continue.

The round was led by new investor, Hennessey Capital, who joined additional outside investor NMT Capital as well as existing investors, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, GM Ventures, Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Inc., 88 Green Ventures and Vision Ridge Partners. In conjunction with the investment closing, Rajiv Ghatalia, President and Founder of Hennessey Capital Management LLC, will join Proterra's Board as an advisor.

Before joining Proterra's board and founding Hennessey Capital, Ghatalia spent sixteen years in Asia Pacific, first at Goldman Sachs then at Warburg Pincus, and has served on boards such as Transpacific Industries, Nikko Asset Management and Junior Achievement.

"Our investment in Proterra demonstrates our firm belief and that of our fellow investors that the company's EcoRide™ has solved a major concern for the world's aging transit fleets – that is, how to deliver emissions free, quiet bus transit that provides an attractive financial return for struggling transit agencies," said Mr. Ghatalia. "Proterra's innovative products, industry leading customers, top flight management and talented work force have this company poised for tremendous future success, and I look forward to being a part of the team charged with taking this thriving company to the next level."

"This latest round of investment and the addition of Mr. Ghatalia to our board are evidence of the vast progress Proterra has made in terms of business development, infrastructure, technological advancement, demand generation and process improvements, and to our investors' confidence in our business," stated David Bennett, Proterra's CEO. "We intend to use the funds and to leverage Mr. Ghatalia's global finance expertise and keen business acumen to continue our growth."

This investment round will accelerate Proterra's revolutionary EcoRide™ bus deployment to new US transit customers, open new markets and spur next generation system offerings. The $60 billion global transit market continues to recognize the ideal fit for battery-electric fast-charge systems, which yield 500 emission reduction and provide an attractive passenger experience.

Proterra has achieved a number of milestones in the past 18 months, growing from two to seven major transit agency customers with a large and growing pipeline. Earlier this year, Proterra's EcoRide™ became the first heavy-duty electric transit bus ever to complete challenging federally required durability and reliability testing at the Bus Research and Testing Center in Altoona, Pennsylvania, demonstrating best in class energy efficiency and noise levels.

About Proterra

With manufacturing in Greenville, S.C., Proterra is a leader in the clean technology and clean energy space, designing and manufacturing heavy-duty electric drive systems, energy storage systems, vehicle control systems, transit buses and fast-charging stations. Proterra's systems are scalable to commercial buses of all sizes. Its ground-up designs have led to the EcoRide™, the world's first full-size, 10-minute charge battery-electric transit bus. For more information on Proterra and its technology, please visit: www.proterra.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      Dave D
      • 3 Hours Ago
      This just keeps adding to the areas where electrics really belong and can thrive with current technology. I know that many routes in places like Manhattan Island have buses that only do about 50-60 miles a day because traffic is so slow. Another area that works is refuse trucks: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/11/motiv-20121119.html#more
      Turbo Froggy
      • 3 Hours Ago
      GM investing in Proterra? Wow, seems like only yesterday GM and Firestone were conspiring to get rid of the trolley cars. In the immortal words of Leslie Nelson "Looks like the cows have come home to roost". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_Streetcar_Conspiracy
        marcopolo
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Turbo Froggy
        @ Turbo Froggy "seems like only yesterday" That was over 70 years ago! Boy, I'm glad you are not someone to hold a grudge ! :) But, sad to recall hundreds of cities across the world abandoned both trolley cars (Trams) and trolley buses, as being too expensive and uncompetitive with buses and cars, without any encouragement from GM . The history of trams, trolley buses and suburban railways, is fascinating. Originally these services were constructed by suburban land developers as a method of attracting people to buy suburban house lots. As cars became more affordable and the massive expansion of the suburbs after the second world war, these networks were became too expensive to operate and maintain, as a result patronage further declined. Very few of these services were intra-suburb, but designed solely as transport to, and from the city core. In the city core, these services were seen as creating bottlenecks on narrow streets and their depots often occupied valuable development sites. Struggling cities, especially those with decaying urban cores, could no longer afford such services. I live in a city with the world largest Tram network, it functions along side a very extensive suburban rail network. It's also pretty unique having intra-suburban routes. Curiously, in a city who heavy industry is car manufacture, the tram network was preserved and even extended by a 1950's conservative government, headed by a farmer ! It's this transport network, which has preserved and protected the urban core of Melbourne from decay and depopulation, despite the growth of vast new suburbs. Where trolly-bus systems have been preserved, they have become very popular additions to city transport.
      goodoldgorr
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Is this fast charger been also compatible with the leaf, volt, tesla, focus ev, etc ?
      marcopolo
      • 3 Hours Ago
      As the article states there are many firms attempting to break into the urban commuter bus market with EV Buses. Why better progress hasn't been made is disappointing. Urban commuter buses would seem obvious candidates for EV construction. With long flat floors, ideal for battery installation and cooling, urban buses travel relatively short distances on fixed routes, at relatively low speeds. Fast charging facilities and other infrastructure is not logistically impossible. Proterra and Hyundai's fast charging developments are great news, but in my opinion the development of EREV buses using LPG/CNG to extend the vehicles range (or in emergencies) would be more practical in the interim. Like GM's Volt, such vehicles would establish a beachhead of acceptance for the value and practicality of EV buses. Anyone would think that the advantage of EV (and LPG/REEV) buses to the urban environment would be immediately noticeable, and greatly appreciated. Yet despite lot's of hopeful EV bus makers, (BYD, Proterra, Driveline, Allied, Advanced Vehicle Systems. Hyundai, PVI of France, Scania, Volvo, Daimler, JING, Yulon Heavy industries, and countless more), the adoption of EV buses seems limited to mostly token experimental services, or small applications like Chattanooga. Why ' Better Place' have ignored this potential market as the only possible practical use for 'battery swapping ' technology, remains a mystery. When asked in an interview, Better Place CEO's Evan Thornley, displayed his skills as a former politician, and avoided providing a decipherable reply ! I believe the main reason why EV/EREV buses haven't made better progress is not technical, but political ! Buses, are seen as the transport of the poor. Most systems operate unprofitably, with subsidized fares and mandated routes. Governments and Municipal authorities, see buses as an unattractive overhead. The cost of building a new bus infrastructure, attracts few votes, and becomes a low priority. In cities with existing trams and extensive suburban train networks, the cost of providing a marginally better bus service lacks priority. ( Cycle tracks, are politically more popular). Cities where buses are the only public transport, are usually too poor to afford to maintain existing services, let alone install new ones. Private investment in public transport services, is very rare. Where it exists, the bus company must operate within a very meagre fare subsidy, usually by public tender, that would never provide the sort of profit required to afford an EV bus fleet. It's ironic, that the largest single use of EV buses in the world, takes PRC coal miners and coal-fired power generation workers, to and from work ! I wish Proterra, (and all EV bus makers) all the best in advancing the adoption of EV technology in public transport. However, far more public support and awareness must be generated, if these manufacturers are to find profitable customers.
        Aaron Howell
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @marcopolo
        A long, but good post. I live in the PRC (China) and the electric bus installations here are pretty good. I prefer taking them. The flat floors and lack of noise make them much better than their diesel counterparts. I think that if more people rode them, and saw how great they can be, adoption would gain more acceptance...especially when you look at the lower usage costs!
          marcopolo
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Aaron Howell
          @ Aaron Howell Thank you for your reply. Which PRC city do you reside in ? ( 你住在哪? ) You are quite correct, the PRC government(s) and authorities have a very different attitude toward bus travel. I'm proud to say that of all the PRC's imported drive-train technology for EV buses, the most highly regarded is sourced from Liberty EV Engineering of the UK ! Googling 'electric buses in china' accesses " Images for Electric buses in china", which reveals a fascinating montage of the hundreds of different Buses and EV's produced in the People's Republic.
          Nick
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Aaron Howell
          marcopolo Unfortunately not the case for Hong Kong, which is HORRENDOUS. Old, filhy diesel buses everywhere, and no glimpse of even a hybrid bus.
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @marcopolo
        An interesting example will be the use of 35 electric busses at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, starting in 2014. The tender according to EU guidelines will start shortly. These busses will be used to shuttle passengers between planes and terminals. This should introduce many people from all over the world to electric transport.
      Spec
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I'm a big fan of EVs but I just can't see how electric buses can be practical. How do you have enough battery energy to drive a big bus for very long? I guess I can see it for niche applications where you want the buses to be really quiet or they operate indoors so you want no emissions. But a much cheaper/easier solution is overhead-wire powered buses.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        They should work OK. 'The plug-in hybrid bus is based on the existing Volvo 7900 hybrid bus design, but with the addition of a larger, energy-optimized battery and the ability to connect to the Opbrid Bůsbaar ultra-fast charging station. Use of the Bůsbaar extends the all-electric range of the hybrid bus to a predicted 75% or more of the route.' http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/07/hyperbus-20120703.html Overhead wires are an intrusive and inconvenient intrusion into the cityscape. You probably won't like it but for longer routes there is always the option of hydrogen buses and hydrogen/battery hybrids.
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Hey spec! Hope you had a nice thanksgiving! Where I think they are very practical is with buses on fixed routes. Does the range meet and exceed the mileage on a route? Yes? Buy them. These would not work for Grey Hound,,,, The overhead line is ultimately more practical in the run (who needs batteries) but also involves an initial cost of installing the lines, and then the buses must go where the lines are installed. Not much flexibility.
        Dave
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        If Proterra's range claims are accurate (a big if) then a city bus (that averages about 10 mph) would only need to recharge every 3 or 4 hours. Unfortunately, some of those recharges are likely to happen in the middle of peak electricity rates. "Using technology developed by Proterra, the composite-bodied BE-35 can recharge via its roof-mounted Fast Fill system in about ten minutes and whoosh on down the road for 40 miles before needing another energy dose." http://green.autoblog.com/2011/06/15/gm-invests-6-million-in-electric-bus-manufacturer-proterra/ Of course, as EZEE said, these aren't meant to replace Greyhound buses that run from city to city at 50+ mph.
        Turbo Froggy
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        They are already doing this in Wenatchee Washington, I have rode on it. It is a super fast charging bus using overhead, automatic 320KW charging station that is at the ends of each route. The overhead charging station automatically connects to the bus when the bus drives into the station, driver doesn't even have to get out. It fully recharges the bus in 5 minutes. It is possible to run the bus on a 20 mile route 24x7. http://esci-ksp.org/?project=wenatchee-electric-bus-project
          DaveMart
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Turbo Froggy
          Great link. Many thanks. I am hopeful that one way and another we manage to drive a stake through the heart of emissions from buses.
        JP
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Spec
        Since these use fast charge batteries they can recharge quickly at stops with high powered chargers. That means a smaller pack. EV buses provide huge savings on fuel for stop and go trips that local buses do, and you don't have to put up unsightly overhead lines, which are expensive and need maintenance.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Good news for SC manufacturing! Every day I drive by Union Terminal at the port, and see Siemens turbines (also made in SC) awaiting shipment to global customers; it will nice to see rows of electric buses as well.
        EZEE
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        South Carolina has a good, business friendly environment. Like Texas, many businesses are moving to South Carlina and opening factories. Orlando lost a planned pharmaceutical plant to SC because of red tape and other issues. More blue collar jobs for SC I guess...
      DaveMart
      • 3 Hours Ago
      It is now becoming even more clear what massive damage air pollution, above all in cities, does. For instance: ' Particulate matter is the most serious air pollution risk in Europe. Using the most recent data, from 2010, the report said 21 percent of the urban population was exposed to larger particulate matter at concentrations above a daily EU limit. Up to 30 percent of city-dwellers faced exposure above a yearly EU target level to finer particles, small enough to pass from the lungs into the bloodstream, making them particularly hazardous to health. World Health Organization (WHO) levels are more rigorous than those set by EU law. By the WHO standards, almost all the European urban population was exposed to dangerous pollution. http://news.yahoo.com/breathing-european-air-shortens-lives-report-083906676.html And: ' Research conducted at the University of Southern California (USC) indicates that at least 8 percent of the more than 300,000 cases of childhood asthma in Los Angeles County can be attributed to traffic-related pollution at homes within 75 meters (a little less than 250 feet) of a busy roadway. The study also indicates that previous estimates of childhood asthma exacerbation related to air pollution may have underestimated the true burden of exposure on society.' http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-09-near-roadway-air-pollution-major-contributor.html The true economics of finding some way, any way, of reducing or eliminating pollution from buses and taxis are much more favourable to them than had been assumed, once the damage is properly costed in.
      Matt C
      • 3 Hours Ago
      I lived in downtown Long Beach for a year and had a really beautiful apartment that was completely ruined because it was located two floors above a bus stop. Those awful clattering, sputtering, smoke-belching diesels were loud enough to interrupt conversations and rattle all the windows. I moved out as soon as I possibly could. Electric buses are so much smarter. They are clean and quiet and their predictable daily routes make them a perfect candidate for electrification. I'm so glad to see more and more of them rolling out. Keep up the great work, Proterra!
      Ugo Sugo
      • 3 Hours Ago
      So tripling orders means they sold 3! And someone thinks mathematics ain't beautiful!
        Dave D
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Ugo Sugo
        Dave, He's just being a jerk. He's referring to the fact that one customer was mentioned in the article as buying 3 so he's asserting that is their entire sales for the year. Just another smartass.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Ugo Sugo
        Dunno where you got that idea from. $23 million buys more than 3 electric buses.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Ugo Sugo
        DaveD: Thanks. I couldn't be bothered to root through to find out what he was on about. I'm glad I didn't now.
      Dave
      • 3 Hours Ago
      Five or ten years down the road, this could be a good relationship for General Motors: General Motors may be hoping to supply Proterra with fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks for long range versions of this bus. Or to purchase drivetrain components from Proterra to power heavy duty Chevy/GMC pickup trucks.
        Dave D
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dave
        DaveM, I hope you guys are right. I really do. I'm not hating on fuel cells at all, as I think they have many places they shine. I was just wondering if they were yet cost competitive enough to give back a TCO for long distance buses. I'll take ANYTHING that helps get us off oil. Now that we have NG coming out of our ears, we might as well enjoy it and do some steam reforming to get H2 and run fuel cells if they're cost competitive.
        Dave
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dave
        "The Proterra fuel cell bus is unique was purpose built from the ground up as a zero emission bus, unlike most fuel cell buses which are retrofitted using a standard diesel bus chassis. The Proterra bus is on the forefront of advanced transportation technology, with plug-in rechargeable batteries, a hydrogen fuel cell system and an efficient all-electric drivetrain; water vapor is the only emission." http://www.proterra.com/index.php/mediacenter/companynews/proterra_hydrogen_fuel_cell_bus_arrives_in_austin_texas
        Dave D
        • 3 Hours Ago
        @Dave
        Dave, I don't know. It looks like they're just focusing on the pure EV side for now. From their July 13, 2012 press release: "Ironically, Hill’s original plan was to use hydrogen fuel cells to provide continuous battery charging. In the process of generating this next generation of fuel cells for a bus, Dale discovered it was possible to recharge the bus very quickly, and in actuality the fuel cell then became purely an alternative, as opposed to being fundamentally the core,” McFarland explained. Further, Hill had identified the market with the most potential as being transit age3ncies that run short, defined routes that lend themselves to Proterra’s battery range of 30-40 miles and fast recharging during driver breaks. “That’s when Dale said, ‘Wow, since fuel cells are expensive and we are years away from becoming mainstream, there’s an opportunity to bring our fast-charge technology front and center at much greater economic benefit in the short run.’” Still, McFarland said, Proterra is devoting resources to hydrogen technology to be able “to put that technology into our product line at the right time, but we do not see that as being a commercially feasible high-volume product within the next several years.”
          DaveMart
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          Dave: Now you are simply nitpicking. The relevant part is clearly a direct quote from an executive of the company. I am also unclear what you mean by 'this is exactly what I am saying'. Are you saying that hydrogen or battery technology will not be viable for several years? In either case you would be right, as at the moment both are quite a lot more expensive than diesel buses or even hybrids. The price of both is falling fairly fast though, and of course the nominal costs of diesel do not include the true costs of their pollution. In places like London even in nominal terms the costs of diesel buses will rise a lot, as European regulations impose huge fines for failure to meet air quality standards.
          Dave D
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          Sorry guys, I forgot to post the link: http://www.proterra.com/index.php/mediacenter/companynews/ I think it has the same quotes as the link Dave Mart published (Thanks Dave M!) Dave, I'm not sure how this enforces your point. It seems to me to say that they are really focused on pure EVs and they are keeping their options open for the future. I really think they'll get there when they go into the long distance transit, but that seems to be a much harder market to penetrate. Not nearly the advantages in pollution control (hwy vs city) and the cost compared to a traditional diesel for long distance seems like it would be really hard to recoup. Just my opinion, but it is a valid question at least.
          Dave D
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          Yeah, Jeff was very enthusiastic. They had great design and real work and had some trials going with the port out in LA. He is an old hand at doing everything from running a company that did landing gear for Boeing to ball bearing plants in Tiajuana to personally being the lead engineer for the largest lift ever used on ocean going vessels for some port in SouthEast Asia where dry docks were not practical for some reason or other. He's old enough and experienced enough not to get excited over nothing so I'm inclined to think it must have been a pretty good set up that the Vision guys had going. :-)
          Dave D
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          Dave, Great link to Vision Motors, thanks. I knew that sounded familiar so I sent it over to our lead engineer in one of my little startups and he says he did some consulting to them earlier this year and they have a great operation going. I wish them luck as that is a perfect application to sink their teeth into.
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          DaveD- If their numbers are legit, they should sell like hotcakes. Less expensive to operate, zero tailpipe emissions, and almost zero noise.
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          More info on the Vision Tyrano, including pricing and operating costs vs. diesel: http://www.visionmotorcorp.com/downloads/VIIC%20Investment%20Deck_General%2007-05-2011h.pdf
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          "Once we get volume production up and running we hope to get the price down to $1m to $1.2m" - DaveMart Interesting. The Vision Tyrano Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell truck supposedly costs only $270,000: "On the drayage side, the ports are experimenting with zero emission technologies, starting with all-electric trucks. But according to Schuermann, those trucks lack sufficient range to operate continuously, which provided Vision Motor Corp with the opportunity to demonstrated its $270,000 Tyrano, which does have the ability to operate all day using hydrogen to generate electricity to power the truck." http://evworld.com/EVWORLD_TV.CFM?storyid=2031
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          I think this is EXACTLY what I was saying: "Still, McFarland said, Proterra is devoting resources to hydrogen technology to be able 'to put that technology into our product line at the right time, but we do not see that as being a commercially feasible high-volume product within the next several years.'"
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          "I am also unclear what you mean by 'this is exactly what I am saying'." - Davemart "Five or ten years down the road, this could be a good relationship for General Motors:" - me Dave D posted an article that he believed was in disagreement with my post when, in fact, it agreed with my post. I'm certainly not nitpicking. A media article written by someone outside the industry should not be confused with a vetted press release.
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          That doesnt look anything like a press release. link??
          DaveMart
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          DaveD: No one is saying that hydrogen fuel cell buses are price competitive now, at least when diesels get a free ride on emissions, but costs are lower than might be imagined and falling fast: 'The technology is also fast approaching a point where it can compete with diesel buses on cost, according to Van Dokkum. "The first generation of the bus cost $3m (£1.5m), but consistently delivered fuel economy that was over 70 per cent better than a control fleet of diesel buses," he explained. "The second generation will cost $2m, which will bring the full lifecycle costs close to the same as diesel buses when fuel costs are taken into account. Once we get volume production up and running we hope to get the price down to $1m to $1.2m, at which point we will be the more cost-effective option for the operator, while also delivering quiet vehicles with zero ground-level emissions."' http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/1803166/fuel-cell-buses-fast-lane-maturity Buses are the low hanging fruit for both batteries and fuel cells, and I am happy that we are starting to get great alternatives to the highly polluting diesel engines in current use, and as long as we beat them I am not too fussed which alternative we use.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          Dave: Dave D doesn't make up data, although on this occasion he forgot to add the link. Here you go: http://www.proterra.com/index.php/mediacenter/companynews/proterra_charges_ahead/
          Dave
          • 3 Hours Ago
          @Dave D
          As I said, thats not a press release. Its an article by the "Greenville Journal | By Dick Hughes, Contributor"
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