When you think about electric vehicles with which to set distance records, transit buses probably aren't the first things that spring to mind. Yet, that's exactly what Proterra used to set a new high-water mark of 700-miles-in-24-hours recently and, upon some reflection, it makes a whole lot of sense.

Firstly, buses are what the South Carolina-based company produces, so of course that's what they would use to set a record with – duh! Seriously though, the approach Proterra has taken to achieve a highly-efficient people mover – extreme light-weighting through the use of a composite body and a relatively small battery that can be charged fast and often – is one that goes against the more traditional approach of stuffing as many batteries as possible into the floor of a conventional chassis. So, putting it to the test of distance over elapsed time seems quite apropos.

During the feat, the EcoRide BE-35 traveled at an average of 29 miles per hour with, notably, the HVAC system engaged. Not only did it roll more than 700 miles, it got an estimated 27 MPGe while doing so. A typical diesel-powered bus would return something closer to 6 miles per gallon (some sources report much less, even.) This, obviously, is a big win for fueling costs and environmental impact on city air.

You can read the official press release by scrolling below, where it awaits along with a video showing a Proterra bus doing its fast-charge thing through an overhead setup.
Show full PR text

Proterra Sets Record for Most Miles Traveled in a Day by a Battery-Electric Transit Bus


Bus travels more than 700 miles with incredible fuel economy

A bus built by Proterra has set a record for the most miles traveled by a battery-electric bus in a day – traveling more than 700 miles in 24 hours. Equally impressive is the fact that on this trip the bus recorded an average fuel economy of nearly 27 miles per gallon – nearly six times that of a diesel bus and seven times that of CNG. The record was set as part of normal testing conducted on Proterra buses before they are delivered.

The bus used for this test is set to go into revenue service in the Southeastern United States within the next few months.

"This record offers definitive proof that all-electric Proterra buses combine all the durability and functionality of conventional buses, while significantly reducing total cost of ownership, fuel consumption and greenhouse emissions," said Garrett Mikita, CEO, Proterra Inc. "We are even more proud of the fact that we demonstrated this performance using a regular production bus with the same features and performance we build into all our buses."

The test was conducted in mid-April on a route designed to simulate both commuter and central business district routes and drive cycles.

The bus, which ran an average of 29 miles per hour with the HVAC system running, was charged periodically throughout the day, using Proterra's proprietary fast-charging process. This technology allows a bus to fully charge in less time than it takes to charge a cell phone.

Proterra is the only EV bus manufacturer with buses currently in revenue service in the United States. Its buses operate in San Antonio, Worcester, Reno, Stockton, Pomona and Tallahassee, with deliveries scheduled for Nashville and Louisville, among others. Based on the strong performance of its buses, Proterra has earned repeat orders from several agencies and played a key role in spurring the interest in and growth of EV transit throughout the country.

About Proterra

Proterra is a leader in the design and manufacture of clean technology and clean energy, providing zero emission vehicles that enable bus fleet operators to significantly reduce operating cost while delivering clean, quiet power to the community. With unmatched durability and energy efficiency based on rigorous industry testing at Altoona, the Proterra product is proudly made in America and the company based in Greenville, SC. For more information about Proterra, please visit www.proterra.com.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 27 Comments
      lad
      • 7 Months Ago
      Battery Electric Busses (BEBs) on planned routes make so much sense, it hurts the mind to calculate all the advantages over diesels, period.
      Levine Levine
      • 7 Months Ago
      Notice the journalist did not mention how many times this bus with a small battery had to be recharged to run 700 miles in 24 hours. Talk about selective amnesia.
        Joeviocoe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Effective functionality of an EV without needing to store weeks worth of energy... is EXACTLY what should be our goal. We need to get people off the habit of thinking like an Oil Consumer.
        Joeviocoe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        Effective functionality of an EV without needing to store weeks worth of energy... is EXACTLY what should be our goal. We need to get people off the habit of thinking like an Oil Consumer.
        Julio B
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Levine Levine
        how is that relevant, the author clearly explained that the bus has a smaller battery and lighter weight requiring more frequent charges. The video shows that it charges while waiting for passengers... Who cares if it charged 20 or 200 times?
          Dave
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Julio B
          The number of charges is irrelevant. However, the hours of downtime during business hours when the bus is needed is relevant. And how much of the charging took place during peak electricity rates is relevant. A larger battery that allows all charging to take place during off peak and allows the bus to operate continuously throughout the business day may well be worth the price, depending on your traffic patterns and your utility's rate structure. Adding numerous large BEVs to peak daytime electricity demand seems to defeat the purpose of BEVs.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Julio B
          Bus depots are considered Commercial or Industrial customers of the utility. Not residential... and therefore get a VERY different schedule of discounts. They really don't do, on-peak/off-peak... like a residential customer might. If they buy in bulk, they may pay prices per kwh that are still cheaper than residential off-peak rates.
      GoodCheer
      • 7 Months Ago
      I wonder how that rooftop automatic charging system works in freezing rain? I infer that there are two terminals (+ and -) on that groove on the roof. Maybe they're kept warm?
        Spec
        • 7 Months Ago
        @GoodCheer
        Yeah, what is that like? It is not like we've had electrified train & trolley systems for more than 100 years now! Oh wait . . .we have. . ..
      Spec
      • 7 Months Ago
      I'm kinda amazed that they are able to build electric buses since they must require huge batteries. However: 1) Buses are probably already an expensive low-volume item as is so throwing in batteries just makes them a bit more expensive. 2) They drive stop & go and at low speeds, so this is a great application for electric driving. 3) Getting rid of the diesel exhaust in crowded cities areas is really nice . . . especially that dark particulate matter that destroys lungs and leaves soot on everything. (Wipe the inside of a tunnel with your hand.) 4) Since buses stop regularly at designated spots, you could put chargers at all these bus stops that it can charge as people get on/off the bus. 5) You could combine this with overhead wires to charge during part of the bus route. So electric buses really can make sense I guess.
        CeeJayABG
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Actually the Proterra bus batteries are not nearly as big as, say, those on the BYD bus. Proterra uses LiT batteries that charge VERY quickly (like 15 minutes from 20% to 80%). The idea is that busses generally make a repeating route every couple of hours at the most; at the end of the route the driver takes a break and the bus recharges. In this way the Proterra design is much lighter (BYD eBus exceeds the APTA guideline for a 40ft bus by more than a ton, and suffered from frame cracks during route testing). Downside: when you buy a Proterra bus fleet you need to buy a system, which includes a very high power charging station. And they are very expensive.
          Val
          • 7 Months Ago
          @CeeJayABG
          and that high price may be part of the reason why so few transit authorities have bought a proterra bus. Besides the obviously high price of the bus itself. A converted EV bus costs 1/4 of the proterra, if an episode of jay leno's garage can be trusted. And the efficiency gain is still significant when compared to a diesel bus.
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Another positive is the rider experience. City busses are noisy, they rattle, and they stink. Electric busses would be much more pleasant.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          Biggest annoyance with electric buses (i ride electric trolleys in SF)... is the instant torque. It takes you by surprise, since there is no revving of a loud diesel engine. If your are standing, you better be holding on.
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          I hope so... I really was trying to be a bit sarcastic. It is the biggest annoyance, but it really is not annoying at all. Just takes some getting used to the first time.
          Val
          • 7 Months Ago
          The torque curves can be adjusted in the controller to eliminate that jerkiness and have smoother transitions. Maybe newer trolleys have that.
      ElectricAvenue
      • 7 Months Ago
      Correction: Proterra sets BATTERY electric bus distance record. Which is very impressive, and important, but is not the same as an "electric bus" distance record. I'm sure that any of the hundreds of electric trolleybus systems in the world could beat this record if they wanted to. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolleybus_usage_by_country
      ElectricAvenue
      • 7 Months Ago
      27 mpg-equivalent, with only 4 people on the bus would be 100 mpg-equivalent per person, which beats the heck out of any single occupant vehicle. Now fill the bus with 40 people..
      Letstakeawalk
      • 7 Months Ago
      Kudos to Proterra! I'm met a few of the engineers at some social events around here, and they're genuinely nice people trying to make a big change in their industry. I wish them the best.
        Joeviocoe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @Letstakeawalk
        in SC?
          Joeviocoe
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          It is good to hear that people are talking about it there. When I was living there, I drove biodiesel, and I was considered a long haired hippie.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          This is where they are based... You meet the most interesting people at an oyster roast. We had a good time talking about BEVs vs FCVs!
      BipDBo
      • 7 Months Ago
      I like this design far better than the BYD POC. I wonder how they compare on life cycle cost analysis. Even if they are comparable, US government municipalities should be buying vehicles that aren't just assembled domestically but also managed and designed here.
        BipDBo
        • 7 Months Ago
        @BipDBo
        My favorite bus design, though, is still the Superbus. http://superbusproject.com/ Haven't heard anything from them in a while. Probably not practical for any US use, anyway.
      seat of pants
      • 7 Months Ago
      That's what's up...the Dodge Charger headlamps though...
      Marco Polo
      • 7 Months Ago
      It's a disgrace that companies like Proterra have received relatively little support from governments and the community in Western Nations. The problem would appear to be that bus services are relegated a lowly status on the pecking order for transport services, and reflect the fairly low status of bus customers. Like shipping, bus transport seems to escape the attention of both fashionable 'greenies' , (who advocate public transport,but seldom use it) and government bodies responsible for public transport infrastructure. Purchasing cost is the biggest factor. Few communities are willing to spend large sums on an expensive electric bus system, since public transport is seen as a loss making overhead and a burden to the taxpayer. Proterra and other high quality Western Bus manufacturers are also hampered by claims and expectations created by BYD, and other PRC manufacturers, of much cheaper buses becoming available. Commuter Buses should be locally built products, designed to the meet the needs of local commuters. The manufacture of commuter buses, should provide employment for the workers who ride in those buses. Everyone, from the local Power utility, to all taxpayers, should encourage the investment locally built electric bus infrastructure, (including solar, geo-thermal etc charging) . From an environmental benefit, it would be far better for the US to invest in replacing it's ageing fleet of 600,000 diesel commuter buses, with US made electric buses, than for 30,000 affluent Americans to by a Tesla model S (That's not a criticism of Tesla). Buses paid for by tax dollars, should be locally sourced.
      Rento
      • 7 Months Ago
      In my opinion these are much better than the BYD buses as they carry more passengers and have a rear view window, which is very useful for bus changes. I don't understand why we don't have them in the UK. Though I guess they cost more + they need charging stations built.
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