Proterra Enters Hawaiian Islands With Electric Buses

JAN 14 2019 BY MARK KANE 32

It’s time to electrify the Hawaiian bus market

Proterra received its first order for electric buses from Hawaii. JTB Hawaii, a provider of travel services on the Hawaiian Islands, purchased three 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 electric buses and two 60 kW DC chargers.

It’s the first step for zero-emissions by 2020 – the goal set by Travel Plaza Transportation, a Hawaii-based subsidiary of JTB Hawaii in 2016.

Transport electrification in Hawaii is especially important because the state is dependent on external fuel supply, while at the same time tourists for sure would like to visit without noisy and polluting vehicles.

“JTB Hawaii is Proterra’s first customer in Hawaii, the first U.S. state to adopt a 100 percent renewable energy portfolio standard. Led by Governor David Ige, Hawaii set its sights on becoming the nation’s first carbon neutral economy by 2045. Today, the state has the second-highest percentage of non-commercial hybrid or electric vehicles in the U.S., and Honolulu leads the country with the most per capita photovoltaic solar installations. Hawaii is particularly focused on reducing petroleum use in its transportation sector, which accounts for the highest percentage of petroleum use, according to the Hawaii State Energy Office.”

“JTB Hawaii was the first Japanese travel company to establish a presence in Hawaii and TPT providing ground transportation and guided tours for visitors since 1979. Each year, TPT carries 1.5 million guests on tours across the Hawaiian Islands. JTB Hawaii plans to introduce the Proterra buses into service as part of its new “HiBus” program, and will use them to transport passengers between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. All three buses will sport a bus wrap featuring artwork by local students with a focus on clean technology.

The Proterra electric buses will replace three of JTB Hawaii’s 17 diesel-fueled transit buses. With the three new electric buses, JTB Hawaii can avoid more than 8,250,000 lbs. of greenhouse gas emissions over the 12 year lifespan of the vehicles. JTB Hawaii plans to use the initial deployment to evaluate the combined maintenance, environmental and performance benefits of transitioning to all-electric buses.”

Yujiro Kuwabara, president of TPT said:

“Environmental sustainability is very important for Hawaii’s tourism industry, and we expect battery-electric buses to be a draw for visitors, who are increasingly focused on the environment. Proterra Catalyst buses represent our first step in transitioning to 100 percent zero-emission commercial tour buses.”

Proterra CEO Ryan Popple said:

“Hawaii has set an example for other states by committing to ambitious clean energy goals, and we’re honored to be selected as the first battery-electric bus provider for JTB Hawaii. We look forward to working with JTB Hawaii to provide its passengers with clean, quiet, transportation and contribute to the continued preservation Hawaii’s natural beauty.”

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32 Comments on "Proterra Enters Hawaiian Islands With Electric Buses"

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Do Not Read Between The Lines

More picking away at the diesel bus industry.

Most of the buses around DC have been using natural gas for years.

No natural gas in Hawaii.

Natural gas is linked to toxic fracking and still requires lots of maintenance and oil changes.

Yes, better that it be used to generate electricity and lots of CO2.

Better that it stay in the ground, replaced by Solar and Wind plus Storage.

Wind and Solar/Storage can not do it all. It will be backed up by either fossil fuel (indicating that somebody does not understand what the heck AGW is about), or by one of the following: hydro, geo-thermal, or Nuclear ( any of these 3 indicate rational ppl at work).

A natural gas powerplant + electric bus is more efficient than a natural gas bus. Of course it’s better to use neither.

Considering hawaii gets its power from expensive oil (hard and expensive to transport NG to hawaii like all islands), most of hawaii will most likely go solar soon enough.

Excellent news. Let the tourists have a ride in this electric bus, see for themselves how clean it is and ask their city transport to launch electric buses.
Shenzen city in China has 100% electric buses in its fleet.

Yes, this is a substantially better ride than a diesel bus.
This should also improve business for Travel Plaza Transport.
-Quiet ride
-No diesel exhaust to breath while loading the bus.
-Cleaner city.

Great news! Except that these buses are essentially series hybrids with an off-site generator: Hawaii generates 62% of its power by burning oil and 12% by burning coal.
If only there were a better way for such a sunny, windy, wavy chain of islands sitting on top of a huge magma chamber to generate electricity without burning things… Oh well, a guy can dream 😉

Hawaii is rapidly converting to solar & wind & battery storage, as it’s the cheapest fuel generation. Both oil and coal have to be imported from long distances and are very expensive.

But, I’m pretty sure you know oil and coal usage are dropping rapidly.

Exactly. You need to plan forward on this stuff, not look to the past. Lots of solar and a little bit of wind power in HI, and growing. Especially on the outer islands – look at what Kauai is doing with solar.

They’re quite focused on becoming energy independent. For them it’s as much a pollution issue as it is removing the reliance from imported fuels. A shipping strike or natural disaster could shut down they place, and they all know it. Going solar +battery storage with oil generator as emergency backup is a resilient and low emission strategy for them.

The other upside is that other than on the Big Island, no one drives very far, and they usually do it slowly (stuck in traffic). Cheaper EV’s like the older Leafs make a ton of sense there.

It’s a cool place to experiment with EV and generation strategies on a smaller, self-contained scale.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

Hawaii’s renewable growth is being held back by the availability of batteries. Global battery supply should be increasing significantly over the next few years.

Looking closely at the numbers, there was a significant drop in hydro and wind, and a significant increase in solar.
The 2017 report was dated February 8th 2018. So, we’ll have 2018 within a month.
It’ll be interesting to see how things changed.

It’s not the availability of batteries, it’s the cost. Hawaii’s high electricity costs do help make batteries more viable than most places, though.

Batteries are a pretty expensive and wasteful way to store excess though. Hydrogen by electrolysis, pumped hydro, flywheels are far more scalable solutions

Far more expensive than batteries.
Don’t have the millisecond response time of batteries.

Solar storage technology is having its time in the sun

Plans to add more solar and storage in Hawaii.

With the cost of electricity in Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Solar and battery are a no brainer.
However in Puerto Rico a group of GOP Congressman were pushing to get ports built so large LNG ships could supply natural gas. Koch Brothers GOP Congressman can’t oppose the Candy Men

Yep…a 2017 report confirms the above on the island of Oahu. The island of Hawaii…geothermal is more…cuz of the volcano:

This is for the month of September 2018. Hawaii Electric Generation.
Hawaii should require all new homes built to have solar roofs and batteries.
Offshore wind turbines need to be installed. There’s insufficient land available in Hawaii for either utility scale solar or onshore wind.

According to wiki, Proterra has 344 orders since founding 2010 until 2020 (and each order has a special source and I feel like have seen them all on IEVs… ok, maybe not all, but quite a few of them).

Can someone explain to me, why is so much attention concentrated on this very small company, compared to … anything else (e.g. China delivers 9500 ev buses a week [correction: every five weeks] or 20 eCitaro [Citaro has 40k ICE deliveries, so EV should do well] buses for Hamburg )? Is it because EV buses are basically nonexistent so far in US?

The future was supposed to look like this (2015): , instead we have 3 (*three*) buses for Hawaii (for evaluation).

“China delivers 9500 ev buses a week ”


At 200 kWh per bus that’d be 100 GWh/year of batteries. BYD is an e-Bus leader and they delivered 13k for all of 2018.

Great article, thanks for the link!

Point being China delivers a LOT more EV buses than the U.S.

You got it. EV buses in US are basically ridiculously small deployments. BYD and New Flyer are the two other vendors with any fleets, but all fleets are effectively still trial fleets. Proterra is a story everyone wants to tell because Silicon Valley and all american

Actually, Proterra is NOT silicon Valley. It was started in Colorado, moved to the east coast and just recently, moved to the west coast.

Proterra builds one of the best busses going.
BYD has a LOT of quality issues with designs.
I have heard the same about other Chinese builders, but have not see them.

Personally, I can not stand it when ppl bring up screaming that solar needs to be on cars.
It says that those ppl have no grasp of engineering/math.
HOWEVER, I have wondered about buses and semi-trucks.
They are big enough tops to POSSIBLY make a difference.
The start/stop of buses would kill this, EXCEPT that buses tend to sit.
As such, I wonder if with some efficient cells, could it be possible to generate a decent kw, at least to cover the AC?

Thin film solar isn’t as efficient as solar panels in a field( or on a roof ), next to battery storage.
This would be an extra cost option, that has benefit, but right now greater benefit is to just build more basic electric buses, as many as possible as fast as possible.

In other words, it’s a luxury item, that will probably show up on Touring Buses and luxury cars first.