Proterra Catalyst XR Electric Bus Goes 258 Miles On Single Charge (w/video)

SEP 4 2015 BY MARK KANE 34

Proterra Fuel Efficiency

Proterra Fuel Efficiency

40-foot Proterra Catalyst XR electric bus achieved a stunning record of 258 miles (415 km) on a single charge at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds in South Carolina.

Catalyst XR is a long range bus introduced in 2014 with battery packs from 129 kWh to 321 kWh. This particular model with record range had 257 kWh.

Proterra Catalyst XR with 257 kWh battery can go 258 miles (415 km) at average speed of 30 mph

We are not sure about the relation of this record to real-world driving range on different routes, but it sure seems to have the potential to drive just like a conventional diesel bus with overnight charge.

With the largest 321 kWh pack, 300-mile (near 500km) electric buses are within reach!

“Based on these test results, Proterra predicts its ten pack XR configuration (321kWh) will achieve 300 miles on a single charge. According to available General Transit Feed Specification (GTFS) data, typical urban and rural bus routes in the United States run less than 200 miles a day, bringing most routes within reach of Proterra’s current technology. “

“Beyond meeting a given route’s minimum range requirements, Proterra electric vehicles are poised to make a significant impact on the transit market because of the Catalyst’s low operational cost per mile compared to diesel, CNG, and diesel-hybrid buses. Over the 12-year life of a bus, Proterra customers will dramatically reduce maintenance costs, saving around $135K. The environmental benefits are also making an impressive impact. Collectively, Proterra customers have logged more than 1.3 million miles of revenue service to date, preventing more than 4.7 million pounds of emissions.”

John Sleconich, Chief Engineer at Proterra said:

“The purpose-driven Catalyst design affords the best efficiency rating ever for a 40-foot transit bus, at 22 MPG equivalent. 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.”

Proterra CEO, Ryan Popple remarkedd:

“The U.S. is quickly waking up to the economic, environmental, and performance benefits of zero-emission electric buses. 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. “

And here we have video:

“The Proterra® Catalyst™ XR Electric Bus Shatters EV Range Perceptions as it Achieves 258 Miles on a Single Charge at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds (LPG)”

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34 Comments on "Proterra Catalyst XR Electric Bus Goes 258 Miles On Single Charge (w/video)"

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Finally, some competition for BYD. May the best solution win.


There is plenty of competition for BYD but I higly doubt they would consider Proterra competition.


I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Proterra now has the backing of Silicon Valley behind it. Ryan Popple, the new CEO, was an early Telsa employee (Senior Director of Finance) and then a partner in a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. He has recently secured venture capital from his Silicon Valley connections to finance Proterra’s future growth and expansion. Proterra’s latest generation of EV bus is quite capable and innovative, being made of lightweight composite and using the latest battery technology. BYD would be wise not to underestimate or dismiss Proterra.

Great! I wonder how far a New Tesla Model X P90D would go at an average speed of 30 Mph?

Or – how far would this bus go at an average speed of 65 Mph? (As in – replacing Buses / Coaches for Greyhound/Trailways) Or – do they only have City Transit Buses in their targets for now? (I think the seats are lighter in them and heavier in Highway Coaches, plus Coaches need to have a basement for Luggage Capacity.)


Robert Weekley asked:

“I wonder how far a New Tesla Model X P90D would go at an average speed of 30 Mph?”

Probably over 400 miles. If an 85 kWh Model S can make 423.5 miles, then a 90 kWh MX should be able to do about as well. At that low speed, the increased wind resistance for a larger vehicle doesn’t impact range that much.

Kevin Cowgill

Congratulations Proterra! I have rode on their powerful and quiet buses in Reno, Nevada. Their engineers and technicians have built an excellent product. I hope more cities get on board.


I wish them luck as well. BYD seems to have the market share so far though. Probably because they get cheap chinese batteries. But on the other hand BYD’s are made in Calif so that is good.

Hard to figure Proterra though. They probably don’t have access to lower cost batteries. The other wierd thing is they say their bodies are composite but they are fiberglass and wood last time I checked.

The other interesting thing is Proterra has gone from smaller batteries with huge chargers to big batteries that don’t need huge chargers.

It sorta validates Tesla’s theory that bigger is better in the battery dept.

James S

BYD has market share? You’re obviously not speaking of the US market.


For the EV city bus market, yes BYD has market share in the USA. In a pond that small, BYD doesn’t have to be that big a fish to be a player.


Proterra has over 70 percent market share of the U.S. battery-electric transit bus market. It has firm orders for 110 units, with 323 options contracted, for a total of 433.


~ 1miles/kWh efficiency..

Still about 5x-6x more efficient than a diesel bus at similar speed?


So they built a 40-foot long all electric bus that can go 258 miles on a single charge?

Proterra could go down as a legendary new EV.

I remember reading in amazement when the TZero first did that, and that was just a very light kit car style body (with no amenities, as I recall). Look how far we have come.


Ludicrous Mode!


Is anyone else thinking of the ultimate motorhome?

Mine would have solar panels hidden in the contours of the roof. You would never notice them.

And twin motors for all-wheel-drive, of course.

I would be unstoppable in my retirement.


goodbyegascar said:

“Is anyone else thinking of the ultimate motorhome?”

I doubt many people are thinking of trying to use a city bus as an RV.

“I would be unstoppable in my retirement.”

Well, so long as you don’t try to do a road trip. If you do, you’re gonna be stopping a lot, and for a very long time each time you want to charge en route. That large a vehicle is gonna gobble up the kWh pretty rapidly at highway speed… that is, assuming it’s actually built to cruise at highway speed.

Someday it will be practical to drive EV heavy trucks and large RVs on interstate journeys. But that day is some years off, after some substantial improvements in batteries.


Well, you should be able to add a (completely guesstimated) peak solar production of 1.5 kW.

At 5 hours full sunshine and 1 mile/kWh that would give you:
5h*1.5kW/1kWh= 7.5 miles/day
or better 53.5 miles/week

well that’s better than nothing… As a retired you should be able to stay in the places you go to as long as you want (and need to charge if you choose to completely rely on solar charging…)

I really like that idea 😉

Hoping for more efficient solar cells. Check out for news on super-giga-ultra-mega lightweight solar cells… Maybe those could once be used to cover the whole body of that mobile home…


citing the link, that does not go throug:

IEEE (Ultrathin Solar Cells for Lightweight and Flexible Applications)

“A square meter of solar cell weighing 5.2 grams produced 120 watts. “It is an absolute record in power per weight,””

mr. M

Weight is not crucial in a motorhome. Best efficiency matters more because of little roof (only 53miles/week). Better add 10kg and add double the range/week.


That’s definitely true.

However the ultrathin-aspect of these cells could allow for covering not only the roof but also the sides of that mobile home with solar. While that may lead to quite a lot of shadowing, it would help to get higher possible mileage due to more collection in the mornings and evenings. Another problem with these cells is, that they are not available yet and most likely they will be quite expensive in the beginning.

I am quite sure, that my 53mile/week estimate can easily be topped out by using highest efficiency cells. I just took the numbers for quite cheap modules, which are easily available for me 😉 @ 0.8€/Wpeak Making that theoretical motorhome only approx. 1200€ more expensive.

When it comes to designing such a solar powered motorhome there will be a lot of options and decisions to make depending on needs and budget. What is really stunning, is that with the readily available components it is not complete nonsense but already possible within tight limitations.

If 12″ =~ 30 cm, then an 8 Ft. wide bus would be ~ 240 cm or 2.4 metres wide. At 40 Ft long =~ 1200 cm or 12 Metres long. With Solar panes at 250 Watts sized about 1 M x 1.5 M, then it could hold about 2 wide by 8 long = 16 panels, or an output at peak of 4,000 Watts, or 4 kW. If they used panels that are just 20% more efficient, at 300 Watts, same size, that now makes 4.8 kW! Without Tracking, you likely won’t get peak for 5 hours, but you should get quite a bit more tan the 1.5 kW calculation above! So, suppose 4 hours from a 8-10 hour sun is your peak, and the rest rising and falling averages about half, then you get about 4 x 4 = 16 kWh + about another 8 kWh = up to 24 kWh a day on good summer days! So if you used a campsite for two weeks of sunny days, you could then drive to the next one, about (1 mile/kWh x 14 days x 24 kWh/day =) 340 miles (at 30 MPH!). So realistic distance on the highway… Read more »
John Doe

I like to read the news on this web site but I have a request. Could you please add the Kilometers also when you are reporting about ranges or speeds?
Unless I’m the only Europeans reader here… 🙂

Sorry about that John, we like to put in both metric whens we can. Usually you will see miles first (or only) on US based stories, while Europe/rest of world will lead with km.

Probably still a good habit to list both more/all the time though.

John Doe

Thank you for your answer Jay!
Mind that I’m not asking you to always do the conversions, which may be daunting, but only when range is the main news (e.g there is a record), like in this case.

Random update: we did go back and add in the km conversions on this one, (=


No, you aren’t. But the calculation is not so difficult. One and a half and you have the kilometers (aprox.)

John Doe

You are right, but reading the number directly is more impressive:
“an electric bus can go for 415 km”

Thanks Jay for the conversion.


I have the same “problem” and would also appreciate additional km values. However I do see that this is additional work which would have been done for the (probably) low number of non-US residents visiting this site. I just always open the calculator before opening this site, that makes the 1.6-times calculation handy. And in fact I start not to convert to km anymore and just get used to the miles values 😉

Well, InsideEVs could of course add a little simple mile/km converter in the right column right below the ads. 😉 (That would also lead to at least some people make their eyes move to that right side of the page… 😉 )

This site is quite great! I guess they don’t really have the need for further improvement 😉

Hey Heisenberght,

I think John Doe is right, we do frequently use km and miles, but probably not enough. We should make a better effort to do both, as the site actually gets a lot of readers (~several hundred thousand pagevisits) each month from metric users.

This might be my fault as editor-in-chief actually, as I was born in Canada, but went to school/played sports in the US…so I take in both numbers without really thinking about it sometimes.

ps) thanks for the compliment on the site


Airinductionchargingandstoragesystem will extend the distance even farther 500+ miles could be made to go coast to coast without stopping, but who would wants that to happen not the oil companies that for sure, I mean who wants clean air.


“258 miles (415 km)”
“300-mile (near 400km)”

hmm.. I don’t get it…

mr. M

Typing error? 300 miles ~ 500km.

Yes, that should read “near 500km”. Fixed, thanks for heads-up!


“A square meter of solar cell weighing 5.2 grams produced 120 watts. “It is an absolute record in power per weight,””


Sorry, this was a response to goodbyegascar
(It seems that I should stop posting…)