Proterra Electric Bus Sets Range Record At 1,100 Miles Without Recharging

1 month ago by Mark Kane 21

Early in September, at the Navistar Proving Grounds in New Carlisle, Indiana, Proterra set a new world record for the longest driving distance by an electric vehicle on a single charge – using its 40-foot Catalyst E2 electric bus1,101.2 miles (≈1,772 km).

Proterra Catalyst electric bus

The Proterra Catalyst E2 is equipped with the latest (and monstrous), 660 kWh battery pack; of which are supplied from LG Chem (because…well, of course they are).

The 1,100 mile range doesn’t represent any real world expectation for energy consumption for the electric bus when in normal duty, but even at half of that in the city, Proterra is more than ready for the job.

It’s also not the first time when Proterra set a new records:

“For the last three consecutive years, Proterra has demonstrated improved range and battery performance. Last September, Proterra drove 603 miles with 440kWh of energy storage, and in 2015, Proterra drove 258 miles with 257kWh of energy storage on a single charge. This year’s world record range marks exceptional performance improvements over prior years, and underscores Proterra’s commitment to innovation and accelerating the mass adoption of heavy-duty electric vehicles.”

Matt Horton, Proterra’s chief commercial officer said:

“For our heavy-duty electric bus to break the previous world record of 1,013.76 miles — which was set by a light-duty passenger EV 46 times lighter than the Catalyst E2 max — is a major feat. This record achievement is a testament to Proterra’s purpose-built electric bus design, energy-dense batteries and efficient drivetrain.”

Proterra Catalyst

Ryan Popple, Proterra CEO said:

“Driven by the best cost savings-per-mile, we believe the business case for heavy-duty electric buses is superior to all other applications, and that the transit market will be the first to transition completely to battery-electric powered vehicles. Early electric bus adopters like our first customer, Foothill Transit, have paved the way for future heavy-duty applications, like motor coaches and commercial trucks. As we see incumbents and more companies enter the heavy-duty EV market, it has become very apparent that the future is all-electric, and the sun is setting on combustion engine technology.”

Separately, Proterra announced the co-development (again with LG Chem) of a battery cell that has been optimized to meet the unique performance and safety demands of the heavy-duty vehicle market.

The battery pack is rated at 160 Wh/kg and 260Wh/L – heavy-duty industry’s highest pack-level energy density according to Proterra.

The company’s new battery facility is set to produce 500 MWh of battery packs annually. That’s enough for more than a thousand vehicles (or more than 750 with top of the line 660 kWh option).

Proterra E2 Catalyst Bus With 660 kWh (no misprint) Battery – Enabling 350+ Miles Of Real World Range

“The cell chemistry has been optimized for exceptional energy throughput capability, high charge rate acceptance, and industry-leading energy density. This joint development underscores the growing market demand for high-quality energy storage systems. According to Lux Research, batteries for transportation and grid storage are expected to surpass consumer electronics by next year and electric buses are cited as a primary market driver for this growing battery segment. Proterra’s new Burlingame battery production facility is currently ramping production to meet demand and can produce over 500 MWh of E2 battery packs on an annual basis.”

“Last year, Proterra introduced the Catalyst® E2, the longest-range electric transit bus on the market. Capable of traveling up to 350 miles on a single charge, the Catalyst E2 meets the full daily mileage needs of nearly every U.S. mass transit route. For this program, LG Chem has developed an advanced battery cell to meet Proterra’s highest standard in terms of performance and safety. The E2 battery packs represent the heavy-duty industry’s highest pack-level energy density at 160 Wh/kg and 260Wh/L. Made from lightweight ballistic-grade materials to withstand the toughest conditions, Proterra’s standard E2 pack was designed from the ground up with an emphasis on safety, durability and performance.”

“Proterra’s E2 Battery Packs – Safer, Smarter and More Efficient
Proterra’s ISO 26262 certified battery management system monitors cell temperature and voltage with more than 70 sensors capturing 160 different diagnostic data streams from each battery pack.  E2 packs are capable of interconnection in various series and parallel configurations, with various second life and heavy-duty applications in mind. Features like liquid cooling and proprietary state of charge algorithms enable long life, rapid charge times and operation in virtually any climate. Onboard vehicle telemetry enables real-time monitoring and over-the-air updates to battery software so fleet operators can track battery performance and reap the benefits of continuous product improvement.”

Youngsun Kim, LG Chem vice president, marketing said:

“Between Proterra’s demonstrated leadership in the heavy-duty electric vehicle industry, and the company’s battery expertise, Proterra has been a strong partner for LG Chem to co-develop a battery cell with for this important market. It is our commitment to be at the leading edge of designing and manufacturing advanced batteries to meet the increasing global demand coming from the electric transportation sector.”

Dustin Grace, director of battery engineering at Proterra said:

“Safety is paramount to our battery design philosophy. We have implemented redundant layers of passive and active safety features into the architecture of the battery in concert with the vehicle itself. Deploying energy storage systems of this scale has led us down a technology path to new and advanced safety features..”

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21 responses to "Proterra Electric Bus Sets Range Record At 1,100 Miles Without Recharging"

  1. 2013VOLT says:

    The beginning of the end of diesel, what a beautiful thing.

    1. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

      Well, the capability can replace diesel, but the blurb doesn’t mention cost. It’s cost that’s holding PEV back.

      1. Brett says:

        Even at a range of 550km before charging, I would imagine the one-time purchase cost would be offset by reduced fuel, maintenance and spare parts requirements.

        Proterra own estimates (which would obviously require 3rd party validation), show a Total Cost of Ownership that is 20-40% lower than diesel or hybrid buses. The capital outlay for a Proterra bus appears to be about double that of a standard diesel bus, but only marginally higher than a hybrid bus.

        City planners (the main target of this product), would be far more cognizant of TCO rather than sticker price, which the one of the mental hurdles most consumers can’t overcome when buying a car.

        1. Eric Sundquist says:

          Unfortunately transit capital and operating costs generally come from different sources, making it hard to optimize for lifecycle costs without creative financing, which is hard to come by. So upfront cost is a serious barrier.

          1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

            And yet, more and more municipalities are buying BEV buses. Clearly cost/benefit analyses favor BEV buses far more than most other types of electric vehicles.

            A growing number of city planners and bean-counters are not blind to this reality.

            Up the rEVolution!

  2. Ambulator says:

    The long range demonstration is a silly stunt, but it’s nice that there are now two reasonable electric options for most bus routes. Kudos to BYD and Proterra.

    1. SJC says:

      Long distance buses can use less batteries and PEM or SOFC fuel cells. The can preform/reform gas or liquid fuels like CNG/LNG, methanol/ethanol.

  3. Lou Grinzo says:

    Excellent news. I’ve been saying for years that a major push in the greening of some sectors, most notably transportation, would not be a top-down or bottom-up affair, but a middle-out one. Things like schools, local bus services, and other fleet operators adopting EVs will have a huge impact. They also open the way for the possibility of battery swaps. If you have a central garage for your fleet, which is common, you could charge batteries during the day and then swap them at night. This would only benefit some applications, but every little extra bit helps.

  4. Ziv says:

    I hate to be parochial but here is hoping that Proterra can continue to give BYD a run for their money on the electric bus competition. I will back an American company over a Chinese company (and a European one over a Chinese one as well) just about any day. So my favorites are Tesla, GM, Ford and Proterra for electric vehicles with Nissan/Renault, BMW and Fiat right close behind the American ones.
    Hyundai and Kia seem to be moving in the right direction as well, of late.

    1. Windbourne says:

      totally agree.
      BYD is not here to help the west, but control us economically.

      I have to say that I hope that Proterra will look at doing monorails as well. With their work on E buses, it would actually work on a monorail line that can be elevated. For crowded cities, the monorails make more sense than buses do.

      1. Ziv says:

        Windbourne, I think monorails could be an answer for some cities problems with finding an affordable means of mass transit. System 21 Monobeam actually looks like it could be a relatively affordable mechanism for building a monorail, mainly by building most of it offsite and then installing, rather than building, the supports columns on site.
        Despite all the good aspects of the monorail, three huge problems will probably stop it from happening. First, someone, some city rather, has to pony up millions of dollars to build the first full sized, real world system. Second, ADA requirements make above the street monorails hard to do without expensive elevators for every stop and emergency egress is even more difficult. Third, the Simpsons show completely destroyed any credibility any monorail system will ever hope to gain. Unfortunately, the third issue is probably the hardest to overcome.

        1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

          I rather think that if anyone ever figures out how to build a monorail system which is economically competitive with a more traditional two-rail light rail system, then the mockery of The Simpsons isn’t going to hold back the concept! I also think you’re reversing cause and effect. The impracticality of monorail transport, and the decades of failure to build any monorail which has stood the test of time (other than the short one at Disney World, which doesn’t need to be economically competitive), is what lead to The Simpsons mocking the idea of a monorail replacing ordinary railroads or light rail systems.

          To quote Wikipedia’s “Monorail history” article:

          …it is the elegant simplicity of the duorail which has to date defeated all challengers. There may exist niche applications where some of the alternative schemes show promise, but unless they can achieve better performance on existing legacy routes, or can offer a better alternative for new construction, it is difficult to see how any are likely to see widespread application.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monorail_history

          1. Ziv says:

            I hear you Push, but I think that until System 21 came up with their design, monorails had the problems I noted, plus the problem with switching, which System 21 has a mildly clunky solution to. But the offsite construction would reduce the price to a level that makes it affordable enough for mid-sized cities to consider, but someone has to jump in first and committing to a monorail now has the Simpsons issue on top of all the other issues.
            Is it the biggest problem with monorail? No. But it does add one more hurdle to the process of adoption.
            And it is a really funny clip. Ridicule is often more effective than logical criticism.

    2. Priusmaniac says:

      I would rather buy a car made right here than in the United-States but I would also still buy a Tesla made anywhere. The best product is not the one made in that or that country it is the one that performs the best while remaining affordable for customers.

  5. Don Zenga says:

    Proterra has a highly advanced motor, but the vehicle is pricey. Hope they ramp up production and bring down the price.

    Now, Greyhound and Megabus can start deploying these electric buses. Jump in guys, otherwise Dubai transport authority will place the orders.

    Dubai Taxis are deploying Tesla Model S/X.

  6. Paul K says:

    Just imagine the improvement of downtown quality of life when the stink and noise of diesel buses are gone. I’m with the other posters of the Proterra over BYD thing. We’ll see how this plays out.

    1. Ziv says:

      Paul, diesel buses aren’t Proterra’s competition. Natural gas buses are what has really been booming in the DC area, and in other cities I have been visiting. Quiet, clean and easy to fuel, plus cheaper, for now, than either BYD or Proterra.
      Here is hoping that the economies of scale keep dropping the price of electric buses!

      1. Scott says:

        You’re like someone who responds to the comment of,”Hey, I can’t wait till we don’t have to eat poop soon anymore”, with,”Hey, poop tastes great!”

        1. Ziv says:

          Way to take it to the gutter, Scott! LOL!
          Natural gas buses are a LOT better than diesel buses! They aren’t as good as electric buses but electric buses are still too expensive up front for many jurisdictions to consider. Until the upfront price of electric buses drop, I hope the new buses purchased are natural gas, not diesel.
          Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good enough. We don’t live in a perfect world so pushing for what is good and attainable now is better than pushing for what is nearly perfect and unattainable for most.

  7. andy says:

    I count the days till Stuttgart makes the switch to electric buses. Especially the much lower noise of those buses would make a huge difference here (since I live right in the centre of Stuttgart). It’s such a shame that Daimler doesnt offer electric buses until now and that Stuttgart wait for them until they do instead of just buying from someone else.

  8. Steven says:

    Hello, SEPTA…
    Buy a few of these.

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