Proterra Adds New Cold Weather Packages For Electric Buses

3 months ago by Mark Kane 9

Proterra, an innovative US electric bus manufacturer, seems to now be maturing – and with that, refining its product.   An example of this is the addition of a new “Proterra Diagnostic Tool” and “Proterra Cold Weather Package” option.

King County Metro Transit’s Proterra electric bus

After selling more than 400 vehicles (delivered and ordered), Proterra’s buses will now be easier to diagnose, using an industry first dedicated Diagnostic Tool:

“The Diagnostic Tool is an industry first: the only diagnostic platform that allows technicians to access all vehicle systems in one place, with one intuitive interface.

A simple dashboard displays the vehicle’s functional layout, enabling users to monitor operation levels, see faults and resolve many issues directly through the interface without physically removing bus panels.

A virtual mechanic, the Diagnostic Tool provides access to most of the vehicle’s operational features, including monitoring of the overhead charging system. Wi-Fi enabled and offering both Bluetooth and USB connectivity, the Diagnostic Tool provides untethered freedom of movement in and around the bus.  Proterra will offer Diagnostic Tool demos today during the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference in Reno, Nev, at Bus Display 13 and on Tues., May 9 at Booth 332.”

Buses can now also be ordered with a Cold Weather Package, as chiller operating conditions are always a major issue with all-electric vehicles.

Proterra Catalyst E2 – Available With 440-660 kWh battery

Proterra offers two options – standard and extreme Cold Weather Packages:

“To ensure safe and comfortable operation in winter conditions, the company is also introducing the Proterra Cold Weather Package.

Already, Proterra buses operate in a variety of climates throughout the U.S.  However, since the bus is electric and has no combustion engine, there is no excess heat to reuse within the vehicle.  The Cold Weather Package addresses this issue with two different configurations, depending on the severity of climate.  For regions with occasional snow and below-freezing temperatures, the Standard Cold Weather Package offers a front door and ADA ramp diffuser to remove ice and minimize slipping, heated mirrors to ensure better visibility, and a heated charge blade and scoop on the roof of the bus for consistent charging all winter.  In areas with more extreme winter weather, such as northern or mountain climate zones, the Extreme Cold Weather Package offers the features of the Standard Package, with additional auxiliary heat for sub-zero conditions to keep riders and drivers comfortable. In addition, a heated rear exit floor prevents ice buildup. Optional features, including integrated chains and belly pans, add an extra layer of safety and operational reliability.”

Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra said:

“With transit agencies across the U.S. moving from fossil fuel buses to EV transit, we want to ensure the transition to battery-electric vehicles is seamless, and remove any adoption barriers related to operations and maintenance. Both the new Diagnostic Tool and Cold Weather Package help demonstrate our commitment to make that happen.”

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9 responses to "Proterra Adds New Cold Weather Packages For Electric Buses"

  1. Mister G says:

    GO PROTERRA GO

  2. georgeS says:

    “the Extreme Cold Weather Package offers the features of the Standard Package, with additional auxiliary heat for sub-zero conditions.

    Propane?

    1. David Lane says:

      Maybe, but I’m guessing diesel. Customers already have diesel fuel infrastructure. I believe New Flyer has said they use diesel auxiliary heat for their electric buses running in Winnipeg.

    2. Tom says:

      The dirty little secret is that when it comes to producing heat, the end to end efficiency of something like propane is much better than electricity. Heat pumps just can do it way below zero. And resistive heaters are virtually 100% efficient but there are losses in conversion internally on the bus, losses in charging, losses in transform within the charging facility, losses in line transmission, etc. In fact even for propulsion nat gas and propane are more efficient and cleaner. A recent article (which of course I can’t find right now) noted that if you have a natural gas combustion engine such as a city bus, that bus is net more efficient than if the electricity source at the power plant was the same natural gas then transmitted, charged to the battteries, then consumed. Even though combined heat and power plants might be 90+% efficent, the remaining losses are greater than transporting the gas and burning it directly. This same concept also applies to home appliances such as water heaters, stoves, furnace, etc. Anywhere that the end product is fire. Bottom line is that for these buses, the heat in the extreme cold package is almost certainly some kind of fire.

      1. Ross says:

        No doubt if one is trying to produce heat, it is better to just burn propane, diesel or natural gas in the vehicle from an efficiency perspective.

        If you’re able to find that article on natural gas buses, I’d be interested in taking a look. I’m a little skeptical of the article’s claim. I used to work for a transit operator and while we had a diesel only fleet, we had looked at the cost savings of moving to natural gas. There was a savings (though it was tougher to justify against increased maintence costs and the cost of the fueling infrastructure), but it wasn’t all that dramatic. Nothing like a 50% increase in efficiency or anything like that.

        Diesel buses tend to get about 3.5-4.5 MPG in a typical urban environment. Proterra is claiming around 17-19 MPGe from service data. Even if that’s a bit inflated, we’re talking enormous efficiency gains – particularly because the low speed, stop and go nature of a bus is incredibly well suited to an electric propulsion system. I just can’t see how a CNG bus – even if it offers a 10-15% efficiency improvement over diesel (and I’m not sure it does) – can beat out an electric bus that has that kind of efficiency. A CNG bus still suffers from all the low speed and idling inefficiencies that any ICE suffers from, which are particularly pronounced in a transit environment.

        That being said, electric buses may make less sense in very cold climates due to heating demands. I’d love to see that article if you ever do come across it because I’m curious about the methodology – even accounting for all the losses in the generation, transmission and charging systems, I just don’t see how battery electric buses don’t offer a phenomenal efficiency improvement.

  3. Anderlan says:

    Anyone remember the iMiev with the heating unit replaced by a liquid fuel heating unit (sold in Scandinavia so that you can save traction power plant fuel when parked)? That’s what I always think of when people mention cold weather issues.

    1. Ned Funnell says:

      I would like to read more. Got a link?

      1. alohart says:

        When we owned an i-MiEV, I participated in an i-MiEV forum, myimiev.com. Several owners installed a Chinese replica of the Scandinavian liquid fuel heater in their i-MiEV’s (search that forum for details). This heater didn’t replace the standard electric resistance heater but merely heated the heater fluid upstream of the resistance heating element so that little if any resistance heating was required thus saving electric energy. Diesel or alcohol were the fuels of choice. Seems like an obvious choice for EV’s in cold climates.

  4. Jason says:

    We need to know how many kW the heating system uses. I know it is a different situation, but my Leaf uses about 2kW to 4kW where I am, so the range is affected. Once the 60kWh Leaf is available, then it should still use 2kW to 4kW, so proportionally the range is less affected.

    Of the bus used 10kW to heat and the battery is 350kW, then adding 10kW battery for heating would make minimal difference, or losing 10kW in distance likewise. If it uses 50kW then it is a significant impact.

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