Electric Buses Proterra Catalyst XR goes 258 miles on a single charge

Published on September 7th, 2015 | by Steve Hanley


Proterra Catalyst XR Drives 258 Miles On Single Charge

September 7th, 2015 by  

Maybe you don’t spend a lot of time thinking about buses, but Proterra does. In a way, it could be the Tesla of large motorized people movers. Why? Because like Tesla, instead of stuffing a bunch of batteries into an existing chassis, the Proterra designers and engineers design their buses from the ground up to be electric.

Proterra Catalyst XR goes 258 miles on a single charge

In testing recently at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in South Carolina, a Proterra Catalyst XR equipped with eight battery packs totaling 257 kWh of energy drove 258 miles on a single charge. That’s important because, according to General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data, typical urban and rural bus routes in the United States cover fewer than 200 miles a day.

That means bus operators who use the Proterra Catalyst XR buses don’t need to spend a lot of money building charging infrastructure to support them when they are out running their routes. They can complete their journeys and be recharged overnight when they get back to their base of operations.

“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 Catalyst XR’s low operational cost per mile compared to diesel, CNG, and diesel-hybrid buses means customers will experience dramatically reduced maintenance costs. Over the 12-year service life of a typical bus, those savings can amount to as much as $135,000 per vehicle on top of the savings realized from lower fuel costs. The environmental benefits are also significant. Already, Proterra customers have logged more than 1.3 million miles of revenue service, keeping more than 4.7 million pounds of emissions of carbon emissions out of the atmosphere.

“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. “

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I have been a car nut since the days when Rob Walker and Henry N. Manney, III graced the pages of Road & Track. Today, I use my trusty Miata for TSD rallies and occasional track days at Lime Rock and Watkins Glen. If it moves on wheels, I'm interested in it. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.

  • Jim Smith

    Wow. Diesel busses are dead.

    • Steve Hanley

      Well, the Proterra IS more money that an old fashioned diesel bus, but its allure for fleet operators is lower fuel costs and lower maintenance costs. Plus, you would think that carbon fiber and composite chassis and the long life of a typical commercial motor would mean the Proterra could have a longer service life than other buses — saving more money.

      But you are right, Jim. The days of the diesel bus are numbered. Thank you for your comment.

    • At an EV conference in Barcelona in 2013, the head of the city’s transit agency told us that an electric BYD bus had essentially the same lifetime cost as a conventional diesel bus… without the pollution. Higher upfront cost, of course, but with a bit of reorganization of transit agency priorities and calculations, BYD & Proterra are set to sell a shit-ton of electric buses.

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