Proterra Takes The Lead in Showing us the EV Way in Mass Transit!

Naba Ali
Published in
5 min readOct 4, 2020

When the world went under a lockdown owing to the pandemic, one positive outcome was that the nature started healing. But this was short-lived, once human activity began situation started turning into the usual. One major cause of environmental pollution is vehicular emissions and it is for this reason e-vehicles are seen as a major major alternative but aren’t very common.

A Game Changer

Proterra a Burlingame, California-based company with its plants in Silicon Valley, is trying to change this perception. It has stepped out to change the game and make battery-operated vehicles a household name.

This promising start-up began producing all-electric buses in the year 2004. Since then it has been called “The Tesla of Electric Buses” but these are only much affordable in comparison. With many Tesla veterans on board, including Co. Founder Ryan Popple, the team has used their experience to focus on the major producer of vehicular pollution, I.e. public transport buses.

What started off as a humble idea of Dale Hill in 2004 to go beyond the success of CNG buses and turn to a totally zero emission one, has become a huge name worldwide. As of 2017 Proterra had sold over 400 vehicles to various agencies like municipals, corporates and university transit agencies. The success story is highly intriguing!

Though a team effort, Co. Founder Ryan Popple is highly credited in bringing Proterra to its current glory. He is also the Executive Director of the company. His vision is to build a beautiful tomorrow for our kids and not to leave the legacy of a polluted environment. He’s the leading innovator of Proterra’s zero-emission battery buses.

Iconic Vision

The founding stone of the company was laid on the idea to of building a zero-emission vehicle that could replace a standard diesel bus and reduce the transit industry’s dependency on fossil fuels. The company claims that,

“With more than 12 million service miles to date, Proterra vehicles have helped agencies avoid more than 55 million lbs. of GHG (CO2e) emissions across the continent”.

It aims to revolutionize transit.

Proterra is surely here to change the game and it aims at accelerating the adoption of electric transportation. It is now leveraging its heavy-duty vehicle expertise to step foot into the commercial vehicle game by supplying technology to power a new line of zero-emission delivery trucks for Daimler’s Freightliner unit and has also partnered with Michelin for rough and tough tires.

With safety, efficiency, acceleration, range, durability and a smooth ride kept in mind while bringing to life a Proterra product; the company didn’t retrofit into the exiting metal bus but came up with their own and unique design. They smartly placed their battery packs beneath the floor between the two axles, which enabled greater safety and increased stability with a lower centre of gravity.

Smart Design

The lightweight body of most of these buses is composed of carbon-fiber- reinforced composite material which is impact and corrosion-resistant. The buses require minimal maintenance and repairs owing to their highly durable build and design, in turn maximizing vehicular life.

Their 40-foot Catalyst E2 max landed a new record by breaking the previous world record. This occurred in the Test-track conditions for the longest distance ever travelled by an electric vehicle on a single charge — a whopping 1,101 miles. Mind-blowing isn’t it? Proterra buses have enabled Atomic City Transit to meet their toughest routes too.

Magic component of EV Buses

The magical component of a Proterra is its uniquely designed battery pack. These battery packs are designed by the best of the best brains in EV engineering primarily for heavy-duty transportation. These batteries are the reason behind Proterra’s victory in the field and till date, the brand is breaking records in the field.

Heavy duty transportation face a lot of wear and tear and rough situations throughout its journey. For this Proterra designed tough battery packs made from ballistic-grade material to withstand all possible hurdles.

For easy and hassle-free charging of buses, they are charged through overhead charging station which can be found at maintenance facilities and as well as at route terminals. And the best part is that driver involvement isn’t even needed. For the widespread reach of this feature, Proterra 2016 onward, promised royalty-free access to the patents covering their overhead charging system.

With an inspiring vision in mind, Proterra is working towards spreading its EV technology. Lately, it has partnered with other world-class vehicle manufacturers to electrify other transports like school buses, commuter coaches and so on. They also plan on extending their trust-worthy powertrain technology to other heavy-duty vehicle sectors.

The company is highly driven by the idea of EV transportation that it also allows for an easy transition from fossil fuels to electricity through their various financing and funding policies. This surely is beneficial for the environment; don’t you think so? They not only lease out their buses but also their magical component, their batteries- the Catalyst.

It has partnered with Mitsui & Co., Ltd., a leading Japanese investment and trading company, to create a $200 million credit facility in support of a battery lease program. Due to this program, the average initial capital expense of an EV bus comes down to a number similar to that of a CNG or diesel bus. This allows for a step towards renewable resources.

For this reason, it is America’s most popular electric bus. Proterra’s success shows how for a greener tomorrow, EV is the way to go.

Ending Notes

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Naba Ali
Writer for

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