December 16, 2010

Proterra builds first battery-electric bus at S.C. plant

Proterra Inc., maker of zero-emission commercial transit products, completed its first bus assembled entirely at its Phase 1 manufacturing facility in Greenville, S.C. The facility is manufacturing Proterra’s EcoRide BE35 buses and FastFill charging stations.

Additionally, Proterra is working aggressively with local support to break ground on its larger state-of-the-art Phase 2 plant located on Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research campus in the spring of 2011.

The EcoRide BE35 is the world’s first battery-electric bus that can charge in under 10 minutes. It has 500 percent better fuel efficiency than a diesel bus with between 17 and 29 miles per gallon (diesel equivelant) and can operate all day as a replacement for conventional liquid-fueled vehicles, the company reported. 

“With the support of the Greenville community, Proterra is excited to see the first EcoRide BE35 bus rolling off our new assembly line,” said Jeff Granato, CEO of Proterra. “The Phase 1 and Phase 2 Greenville facilities will help us keep up with the international demand for Proterra’s all-electric, zero emission bus and 10-minute FastFill charging stations.”

The first bus will be sent to the Altoona Bus Research and Testing Center for safety testing required by the FTA. The Proterra EcoRide BE35 will be the first all-electric bus that the center will be testing and once completed, allows Proterra to mass produce and sell the bus on a commercial scale.

“This has been an exciting time for me,” said Westy Bowen, who grew up in Sumter, South Carolina and is now vice-president of supply chain at Proterra. “The company now has over 120 workers and growing with many local hires. We have begun to shift work from other states to South Carolina-based suppliers, creating even more jobs in my state and local area.”

Proterra has been fielding an increasing number of orders and inquiries from transit agencies in the U.S. and internationally since September, when the company worked with Foothill Transit in Southern California to successfully roll out three EcoRide BE35 transit buses.

After only two months, those buses have accumulated several thousand miles of data indicating that the EcoRide will exceed its claims of achieving a 500 percent improvement in miles per gallon (diesel equivalent) fuel economy performance over conventional diesel buses.

Additionally, in November, five transit agencies across the U.S. were officially notified that they will receive $25 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration Transit Investments for Greenhouse Gas and Energy Reduction Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to purchase 20 fast charge battery electric transit buses and four EV charging stations.

The only vehicles and charging stations that currently meet the specifications in the grants are Proterra’s EcoRide BE35 buses and FastFill charging stations.

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