Proterra has introduced the fifth generation version of its battery-electric transit vehicle, the Proterra ZX5.

Story by Team CV
A leading designer and manufacturer of zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications since 2004, US-based Proterra’s new offering — the Proterra ZX5, marks significant improvements in performance, range and operating costs. Featuring a streamlined design that has a better ability to cheat the wind, the new electric bus, according to company sources, presents an ability to store the most energy a vehicle of its type would. This, in-turn, has an effect on enhanced performance and range extension. Measuring 40 ft. in length, the Proterra ZX5, coming from a company that is at the forefront of electric commercial vehicle technology development, builds on the Proterra bus-line legacy that began its journey over a decade ago. Designed to tackle the most challenging routes and terrains across North America with zero emissions, according to Jack Allen, CEO and Chairman, Proterra, the new e-bus is equipped with a 660 kWh battery pack that supports a drive range of up to 329 miles. It is also available to customers as a 35-ft long vehicle with a 220 KWh battery pack or a 440 kWh battery pack.


Drawing from its manufacturer’s expertise and knowledge that has seen top OEMs utilise its battery systems, the Proterra ZX5 is designed for full-fleet electrification. Built ground up with a refined composite bus body design, the e-bus, apart from performance, range and operating costs, delivers on safety and durability as well. Building on the experience of Proterra delivering its first battery-electric transit bus a decade ago, according to Allen, the Proterra ZX5 is poised to start a transportation electrification revolution in North America with its new vehicle and battery technology. Designed to include every functionality of a bus, the Proterra ZX5 has a lower vehicle height, which enables it to have greater route access. Equipped with new shock absorbers, the e-bus also flaunts superior ergonomics. These enable the driver and the passengers to experience a smoother ride. Drawing from the legacy of over 16 million service miles, the new e-bus has had a lot of work done in the area of dimensions and safety. Thus, the Proterra ZX5 gains a good deal in safety and handling as the project that led to it, touched most of the system on the bus, according to Allen.
A lot of attention is paid to the chassis, the new e-bus can kneel lower and faster. Averred Allen, that much work has gone into ensuring that the e-bus has smoother acceleration as well as smoother decelerations. Noticeably more comfortable and safer than the earlier generation vehicle, the e-bus offers an additional front port transit. It also offers vehicle charging to allow transit customers’ flexibility and optionality. With an improved hill-climbing ability to boast of, the Proterra ZX5 is also bought with a roof-mounted pantograph. Like the Scania R450 hybrid truck being tested on Germany’s e-highway south of Frankfurt, the Proterra ZX5’s pantograph system enables it to have its batteries charged on an e-highway. This translates into added charging flexibility as well as operational freedom. Mentioned Allen, “We want improved scalability by ‘commonising’ the base platform. Doing so has enabled us to make our process more repeatable, more efficient, and scalable. We are now better positioned to ramp up production. We are in a better position to ensure that our customer and end-user have a better experience operating or riding the e-bus.”


Equipped with the company’s standard ProDrive drivetrain, which includes a single permanent magnet drive motor with a two-speed auto shift gearbox, or a DuoPower drivetrain, which features two electric motors supporting 1.5 times faster acceleration by the virtue of nearly twice the horsepower (550 hp) and five times better fuel efficiency than a standard diesel engine, the Proterra ZX5 is a showcase of technology in the form of a bus that exhibits an ability to supersede CNG or diesel powered buses by a good margin. Interestingly, the 550 hp DuoPower drivetrain, presenting the e-bus with an ability to accelerate from 0 to 20 mph in less than six seconds, has a new generation battery pack that is highly customisable in nature. With a grade-ability of the Proterra ZX5 up by 25 per cent on steep hills, courtesy the DuoPower drivetrain that is manufactured at the company’s California facility dedicated for the purpose, what distinctly stands out regarding the new e-bus is the amount of attention that has gone into its designing and execution. Emphasising innovation as the factor at the core of their working principles, Allen said that the Proterra ZX5 better-engineered, better designed and safe. He concluded that they have spent months toiling over every millimetre of the product in view of the fact that thousands of decisions are made, which put together make a huge difference.”

Proterra power
Since 2004, Proterra has clocked more than 16 million service miles in heavy-duty applications. As an electric bus and electric passenger and cargo commercial vehicle battery solutions provider, Proterra has been at the forefront in the e-mobility space in North America. Specialising in the design of electric transit buses, electric school buses, delivery trucks, coach buses, and shuttles, Proterra has earned a strong reputation for its battery technology solutions. Providing drivetrain solutions for commercial vehicles in a bid to help automakers and fleets to reduce their carbon footprint and lower operating costs, Proterra has managed to gather a good presence in the transit bus space for itself in the US and Canada. It has sold more than 1,000 electric buses to 130 communities across 43 US states and Canadian provinces. Offering a turn-key approach to an energy ecosystem for e-CVs, Proterra has achieved an edge through high-power charging systems and energy fleet solutions. Providing an ecosystem which includes charging infrastructure design, build, financing, operations, maintenance and energy optimisation, Proterra electric energy solutions have found use in Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, Van Hool, Optimal, and Bustech. The company’s silicon valley R&D lab and manufacturing facilities are claimed to be the most modern and capable of turning out to be the best on offer against existing and emerging competition.

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