Proterra Catalyst XR Bus Gets New 330 kWh Battery Pack

MAY 18 2016 BY MARK KANE 29

Proterra Electric Bus

Proterra Electric Bus

Proterra Catalyst

Proterra Catalyst

Proterra announced at the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference (APTA) a new battery design for its long-range Catalyst XR model bus..

The Catalyst XR will be now offered with a massive 330 kWh battery, which is some 28% larger than previous offerings

Range has thus increased to 194 miles (over 310 km).

“Within the same energy storage footprint as the original Catalyst XR, the battery-enhanced vehicle now holds 28 percent more energy at 330 kWh and a best-in-market lightweight vehicle body. All current Catalyst XR customers will receive a complimentary upgrade to the higher energy level.”

“Since establishing its state-of-the-art battery-engineering lab in Silicon Valley, Proterra has attracted world-class engineers from leading technology companies to design batteries specifically for heavy-duty EV transit. With extensive background in mechanical, electrical and battery systems engineering, the team architected a new Catalyst XR battery pack for optimal efficiency which now delivers additional range while remaining the lightest vehicle in its class.”

“The award-winning bus has already achieved the best efficiency rating ever for a 40′ transit bus at 22 MPGe. Nearly six times more efficient than a diesel or CNG bus, the Catalyst is also significantly more energy efficient per mile than the closest competitors’ electric bus. Other performance benefits of the Catalyst XR2 include:

  • Longest nominal range: capable of traveling a maximum of 194 miles on a single charge, based on Altoona efficiency measures. Actual mileage will vary with route conditions.
  • Lightest weight: at least 2,000 lbs. lighter than any other 40’ battery electric bus on the market, while being more efficient.
  • Designed for safety: Catalyst vehicles are purpose-built and engineered for the safest location of batteries—outside of the passenger compartment. The batteries are temperature-controlled and incorporate both active and passive safety systems, with ruggedized, reinforced battery packs that are further separated from passengers by a heavy-duty structural barrier.”

Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra said:

“Our goal is to enable a complete replacement of fossil-fueled transit vehicles. By steadily improving the range and charging capability of our purpose-built EV transit vehicles, we’re broadening the market for EV transit very quickly, enabling more cities and more routes to go Zero Emission sooner.”

Gary Horvat, chief technology officer at Proterra said:

“By increasing the battery’s energy density, the team was able to utilize the Catalyst vehicle’s purpose-built design and maintain its light weight. The improved Catalyst XR marks another step toward Proterra’s goal of providing a high-performance bus that can serve any transit route in the United States.”

Proterra EV Simulator

Proterra Catalyst

Proterra Catalyst

The second bit of news from the Proterra released at the APTA conference is the EV Simulator, designed to help customize electric bus configuration (for example size of the battery).

“The EV Simulator provides fleet managers with customized, system-level information on electric bus deployment. Designed to visualize mass transit networks and to assess the cost savings, performance improvements and environmental benefits of battery-electric transport, the Proterra EV Simulator generates a side-by-side comparison of Proterra’s transit solutions with diesel, CNG and hybrid technologies on specified transit routes within a chosen public transit system. Proterra will display the performance simulator on May 17th at booth 631 during the American Public Transportation Association Bus and Paratransit Conference in Charlotte, NC.

Utilizing data that drives Google’s map applications and based on algorithms that are built on performance data from Proterra’s two million miles of real-world experience, the Proterra EV Simulator incorporates a wide variety of variables affecting vehicle performance, including route specifications, local temperatures, passenger load and vehicle efficiency. Proterra’s offering represents the most comprehensive and accurate heavy-duty vehicle performance comparison simulator in the public transit market.

The Proterra EV Simulator takes into account energy use of the Proterra electric powertrain and provides an estimated daily route analysis based a specified passenger load, layover times, the number of buses in operation and number of route loops, as well as energy efficiency, vehicle charge time and battery state-of-charge on-route and at the end of the day. Some of the key calculations include:

• Annual maintenance and operational costs per Proterra bus
• Lifetime maintenance and fuel savings
• Overall Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)
• Energy efficiency MPGe
• Total daily distance and energy used per day
• Charge time”

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29 Comments on "Proterra Catalyst XR Bus Gets New 330 kWh Battery Pack"

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That Proterra EV simulator could be a killer feature for Proterra to demonstrate the advantages of their buses, assuming that it’s accurate and of course that Proterra really are that good 🙂

Another Proterra killer feature (non-killer feature???) is a Mobileye-based collision avoidance system, which is available as an option.

“Mobileye’s system offers not only forward collision warning, but also pedestrian and cyclist detection, headway monitoring to avoid tailgating, lane departure warning to help avoid drifting, and speed limit indication.”

It would be a nice thought if every bus on the planet was all EV like this,

Those things are really stinky !


The idea of a long range bus would be perfect for a lot of charter applications. They generally drive ~3 hours to the destination, and then sit there all day, waiting to return home. That would certainly provide opportunity to charge, provided charging facilities were available. Often times, the driver will let the engine run while waiting, just to keep the AC on.

In your face BYD!

*lol*… BYD produces more electric buses in a week than Proterra has done in a decade.

Every EV counts but the amount of publicity compared to the very marginal number of buses Proterra produces is ridiculous.

Can’t I root for the underdog? 😀

BYD doesn’t have any special sauce that makes their EV buses superior. It makes its own low cost batteries, but there is nothing special about the specs of their batteries. That’s why you don’t see any of the major car makers using their batteries.

Let’s not forget that vast majority of BYD’s sales are in China, which is pretty much a closed market for EV buses, unless you’re a domestic manufacturer.

In the U.S., BYD doesn’t enjoy the monopoly/oligopoly and protectionist trade policies that it has in China. So far, BYD has sold only a paltry number of EV buses in the U.S.. Practically the entire U.S. fleet is up for grabs as the current diesel, diesel hybrid, and CNG buses get retired. The winner with regards to future U.S. EV bus sales, will be the company that makes an EV bus with the best combination of higher MPGe, AER, reliability, and lower price.

Proterra recently opened a California factory to meet future demand west of the Mississippi, while the North Carolina plant will meet future demand in the eastern half of the nation.

I’m still looking for an EV RV. When is Proterra going to start offering coaches to RV builders?

+1. Due to weight and space concerns I’d prefer fuel cell, of course.

Nice thought, but do you realize how much power is required to recharge these things in a reasonable timeframe? Not to mention the upfront costs of such a large battery. Don’t expect them in consumer hands anytime soon. I’d expect hybrid power trains to appear first, with BERV only making an appearance once high output (150+ kWh) charging stations become commonplace.

What you should consider is that most RVs of this kind overnight in RV parks. RVs of this size usually don’t stop where there isn’t an electrical connection. Very very few nights are spent off grid, and fewer still in the rough.

In RV parks, 30 amp service is normal, 50 amp service is common, and dual 50 amp service isn’t uncommon at all. Most parks are already upgrading their electrical because bigger rigs and trailers are becoming more common, and the last thing you want to hear when “camping” is someone else’s generator running all night..

So these are much more suited to RVing than you might imagine.

*If* you can get to the RV park on a single charge, 30A service will get you 7.2kW of charging action, 50A will get you 12kW. Let’s pretend you can pull the full 30/50 A at 240V, no voltage sag, charging with 100% efficiency, and no charge taper. 330kWh / 7.2kW = 45.833 hours. Realistically it will take you 2.5 to 3 days to fully charge at that rate. 330kWh / 12kW = 27.5 hours. Figure a day and a half, maybe two. And that leaves no power for running the RV.

Realistically you need 50kWh just for charging overnight. At 240V that’s almost 209 amps, so figure each RV hookup would have to provide 250A service. Better would be separate 3 phase 480V 100A for charging, and 240V 50A for hotel. That’s per RV hookup. Peak power requirements for the RV park will be huge, and the infrastructure to support this is quite expensive, so don’t hold your breath.

50kW, not kWh.

Multi-day stops are SOP for RVs. Why so many of them tow a car (and hey, can the car be EV and made to help push? 🙂 )

I contacted Motiv about converting their e450 and F59 eTruck chassis to an EV RV but so far it’s a no go … something about brackets?

Looking at the battery costs – an EV RV will only make sense, and good sense, if you live off-grid and the RV is your home battery.

what is the battery chemistry?
NMC for these.

(They use lithium titanate for the “fast charge” configuration buses.)

Here is Proterra’s spec sheet comparing it’s Extended Range (XR) and Fast Charge (FC) Catalyst EV buses.

All will receive a complimentary upgrade!?! That’s… amazing!

Please, Nissan, watch and learn… my Leaf could use a little complimentary upgrading as well. 330 kWh welcome 😀

When will these guy start selling some buses? Didn’t they sell only like 10 so far?

Per recent Proterra Press release: “Proterra has sold more than 155 vehicles to 16 different transit agencies throughout North America.”
Sales have been dependent on special federal grants (not so bad since transit agencies rely on such grants to buy diesel buses too) but now they are starting to accelerate.
Here is the biggest example:

Ok, thanks for the info, my google search gave me 63 buses, in any case I hope they start growing fast…

Proterra just opened their second factory in California, the first one is in North Carolina. There’s lots of good info on Proterra in the article below.

South Carolina, not North Carolina

Supposedly it’s 63 buses and not 10, that’s still a tiny, tiny number.

28% increase in range is great. But what about the cost. I believe these buses cost $400,000 which is 2 times as expensive as CNG buse and 4 times as diesel.

At the battery price of $300 / KWh and 330 KWh, the battery should cost only $99,000. That makes the $100,000 bus cost $200,000. But where does the other $200,000 go. This is what limits Proterra to just 150 sold while BYD had already sold 10,000 buses.

BTW, how did they manage to make this bus 2,000 lbs lighter than Diesel powered bus. That’s awesome.

According to, “Diesel buses are the most common type of bus in the United States, and they cost around $300,000 per vehicle, although a recent purchase by the Chicago Transit Authority found them paying almost $600,000 per diesel bus.”