Proterra Catalyst E2 has added a new dimension to the concept of electromobility.

Story by: Anirudh Raheja


Electromobility is an area no manufacturer would want to stay away from. It is the need of the time, and is perhaps a gateway to the future. It is not surprising therefore to hear about startups wanting to make a mark in electromobility. There calling, it is clear, is technology. Aiming to eliminate the need for diesel powered buses, a Silicon valley startup Proterra, has developed a 40 ft. long city bus. Building electric buses, Proterra started its journey in 2004 at Golden in Colorado with the development of EcoRide BE35, a 11 m long composite body, fast-charge, electric bus that seats 38 people including the driver, and has a passenger capacity of 60. Shifting its base to Burlingame, California, under the leadership of Ryan Popple, formerly the CEO of Tesla, Proterra launched the Catalyst, a 12 m long fast-charge, 100 per cent electric bus, in 2014 to replace the EcoRide BE35. One of the world’s most efficient transit buses, the Proterra, made from low weight composite materials, is found with operators like King County Metro in Washington.

Building upon the legacy created by the BE35, a battery electric bus to complete federally mandated Altoona testing, and later the Catalyst, the Catalyst E2 (E2 stands for efficient energy) is a 12 m long city bus. Debuting recently at the American Public Transport Association (APTA) annual meeting at Los Angeles, the Proterra E2, under test conditions at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds, proved to be capable of covering roughly 350 miles (over 550 kms) in one juice. The carbon-reinforced composite body of Catalyst E2 resists impact and avoids corrosion. It also lasts long against a conventional transit vehicle according to company sources. Staying on the road for 18 hours at a stretch, Catalyst E2, with the capacity to transfer 77 passengers, employs an advanced electric drivetrain. The drivetrain is supported by regenerative braking system that helps to recapture over 90 per cent of the bus’ kinetic energy. Aiming to cater to longer routes, the Catalyst E2 is all set to carry forward the legacy of the Catalyst FC and XR series. The two are giving tough competition to traditional buses on short and medium range routes.

Since there is no need for creating charging infrastructure extensively, Proterra’s electric buses look like perfect candidates for increased electromobility, including the new Catalyst E2. The Proterra buses that are already operational, are largely plying along defined routes. They can therefore be charged fully when parked overnight. In the case of the Proterra E2, the in-house developed twin-battery pack can store up to 660 kWh. The twin-battery pack can be fully charged in three to five hours using industry standard J1772 CCS plug-in chargers. Having sold over 312 vehicles to 35 different commercial transit, municipal and university agencies, Proterra sources claim that over 540 thousand gallons of diesel has been saved. They claim further that the Proterra buses have completed 2.5 million revenue miles, and eliminated over 10 million pounds of carbon emissions. Set to hit the streets next year, the Proterra E2’s journey will be dictated by rising customer demand. Made at the company’s manufacturing facility at Greenville, South Carolina, the 12 m long bus will contribute to the company’s ambition of doubling production. The Greenville plant has two lines. Funded through FTA grants as well as venture capital funding according to industry sources, Proterra, which is claimed to have raised more than USD 130 million in private equity funding, has registered a sales growth of 220 per cent in 2016 as compared to 2015 sales.


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