As part of a plan to invest in and support next-generation transportation technologies, General Motors investment group GM Ventures will invest $30 million in Proterra Inc., a developer of all-electric commercial buses. The investment will help fund the production of an all-electric bus that Proterra claims can be recharged in about 10 minutes.
Founded in 2004, Proterra currently develops and manufactures buses in Greenville, SC. Its latest product, the EcoRide BE-35, features lightweight, composite-body construction and lithium-titanate battery packs that contribute to its claimed average diesel equivalent of 24 mpg in service — reportedly a 600-percent gain over conventional diesel buses. According to Proterra, the BE-35 has up to a 40-mile range under the 10-minute fast charge application, an operational range that the company claims will allow it to replace 80 percent of diesel buses in typical transit and shuttle use with minimal changes to schedules and routes.
John Lauckner, president of GM Ventures, said that the investment shows GM’s commitment to electric propulsion and also demonstrates the company’s desire to identify and invest in technology solutions that will help advance the world’s transportation industry.
The BE-35’s 10-minute fast charge capability is made possible by the roof-mounted “Fast Fill” recharging system. This feature allows the bus to dock in a charging station that can automatically begin charging through the connection on the roof. While charging, the BE-35 can be configured for longer ranges if necessary. A fleet of three BE-35 buses is currently testing near Pomona, CA, with additional tests planned for other regions.
GM Ventures’ investment will help Proterra commercialize its electric bus technology, permitting the company to move forward with the fleet of new buses and charging stations planned for San Antonio, TX and Tallahassee, FL. In addition, the investment will allow Proterra to complete federal tests for the BE-35, roll out more pilot fleets and increase production at its Greenville plant to 400 buses a year.