Proterra electric bus – Click above for high-res image gallery

Altair Nanotechnologies has not had a completely successful string of events these last few years. They lost more money than expected in 2007 and were not always embraced by the investment community. But there was good news, too, like some government spending and a deal with Phoenix Motorcars (well, that's more a good news/bad news sort of thing). This week, though, the company is excited about showing off a rapid-charge hybrid bus in Washington, D.C. with partner Proterra.

The bus was on Capitol Hill this week and is full of impressive numbers. The big one is the company-calculated MPG equivalent of "18 and 29 miles per gallon diesel fuel equivalent fully loaded with 68 passengers -- 500% better than a comparable diesel bus," similar to numbers discussed when the bus was touring California and Pennsylvania earlier this year.

One of the technical advances that makes a lot of sense on this bus is the rooftop FastCharging hook-up. Proterra says this allows the Altairnano batteries to be recharged in 5-10 minutes. Earlier, we heard the bus would be able to go around 30-40 miles per charge, but this range has been dropped from the most recent press materials. Still, a powerful-enough charger at either end of a city route would be plenty to make zero-emission buses a reality. Oh, and these buses would need to be built, but Proterra has a plan for that, too. Details after the jump. Thanks to Luca R. for the tip!


[Source: Proterra]

PRESS RELEASE:

All-American Zero-Emission Electric Bus Debuts on Capitol Hill


WASHINGTON, DC -- 10/29/09 -- Proterra LLC, a Colorado-based manufacturer of zero-emission heavy-duty vehicle systems and transit buses, and Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc. (Altairnano) (NASDAQ: ALTI), a leading provider of energy storage systems for clean, efficient power and energy management, today introduced to Washington DC policymakers the only made-in-America electric rapid-charge hybrid bus that meets California's zero emission rules.

Proterra's initial product, a thirty-five foot all-electric transit bus, has been designed from the ground up to enable transit agencies to replace conventional diesel buses on a one-for-one basis with the world's first all-electric buses operating 24/7. This is accomplished by combining Proterra's light-weight composite body, highly efficient ProDrive™, advanced TerraVolt™ energy storage system (powered by Altairnano batteries) and on-route rooftop FastCharging™ station to charge the batteries in 5-10 minutes. The vehicle achieves between 18 and 29 miles per gallon diesel fuel equivalent fully loaded with 68 passengers -- 500% better than a comparable diesel bus.

Production of Proterra's transit bus using lithium-titanate batteries supplied by Altairnano could create over 6,000 green jobs in 21 states. A fleet of 500 buses operating over 12 years could cut emissions of CO2 by 840,000 tons and reduce oil consumption by 82 million gallons.

"In addition to our advanced control systems, composite materials and overall design, Altairnano is providing a key building block with their unique, safe and long-lasting lithium-titanate batteries that make it possible for us to offer an ultra fast charging system that eliminates emissions for the world's heavy duty vehicles," said Jeffery Granato, Proterra's President and CEO. "To meet their stringent zero emission standards, California will be one of the first areas of the country to deploy this fast-charge battery-electric transit bus."

"Altairnano is extremely excited that Proterra selected our battery to power this remarkable vehicle," said Terry Copeland, President and CEO, Altairnano. "Proterra has designed a bus that will not only mean more green jobs for us and their other suppliers," continued Copeland, "but will put our nation at the forefront of producing state-of-the-art technology to address our most pressing environmental challenges."

Currently, 23 public transit agencies in 11 states (California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Washington) and the District of Columbia have submitted grant requests to obtain funds to purchase Proterra buses and charging stations. Additionally, Proterra is negotiating to supply the buses to several international customers.

In Washington for the week, Proterra and Altairnano executives and representatives of the Center for Transportation and Environment held meetings and bus tours with the Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy, leaders in the House of Representatives, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority.

About Altair Nanotechnologies, Inc.

Headquartered in Reno, Nevada with manufacturing in Anderson, Indiana, Altairnano is a leading provider of energy storage systems for clean, efficient power and energy management. Going beyond lithium ion, Altairnano's Lithium-Titanate based battery systems are among the highest performing and most scalable, with applications that include battery cells for military artillery, battery packs for hybrid vehicles and energy storage systems for large-scale stationary power services. For more information please visit Altairnano at www.altairnano.com.

About Proterra LLC

Proterra is answering the international call for efficient, cost-effective and environmentally responsible heavy-duty vehicle solutions. Headquartered in Golden, Colorado, Proterra is a leading designer and manufacturer of heavy-duty drive systems, energy storage systems, vehicle control systems and transit buses. Proterra's systems are scalable to all forms of commercial buses and Class 6-8 trucks. For more information on Proterra and its technology please visit www.proterra.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This release may contain forward-looking statements as well as historical information. Forward-looking statements, which are included in accordance with the "safe harbor" provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, may involve risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause Altairnano's actual plans, results and performance in future periods to be materially different from any plans, future results or performance suggested by the forward-looking statements in this release. These risks and uncertainties include, without limitation, the risks that products will not perform as expected in future testing or real-world applications; and that even if full commercialization occurs, product sales may be limited and costs associated with production may exceed revenues. In addition, other risks are identified in Altairnano's most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K and Form 10-Q, as filed with the SEC. Such forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this release. Altairnano expressly disclaims any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements found herein to reflect any changes in company expectations or results or any change in events
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