A 1,770-kilometre (1,100-mile) test drive on a single battery charge had electric bus start-up Proterra bragging about a new world record last week, far exceeding the previous highs of 632 miles for an electric bus and 1,013 for an electric car.
Despite the highly-touted announcement, “most of the company’s electric buses won’t likely have such an extreme range, though its customers can customize the buses and add on range if it’s needed,” Greentech Media reports. “The company says its newest-generation battery will deliver a bus range with 350 miles. Many of the most popular electric cars available have a range of around 200 miles.”
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But the achievement was still “a demonstration to the transportation industry that electric vehicles have arrived and are a mainstream, real-world solution,” said Chief Commercial Officer Matt Horton. “We wanted to make sure we could meet the needs of every transit agency in America,” knowing that many transit agencies run their vehicles 40,000 miles per year over a 12-year service life.
Founded in 2004, Proterra has supplied more than 100 electric buses to customers, including the cities of Seattle, New York, and Dallas. For its record-setting test, it used lithium-ion batteries from LG Chem, the firm that also supplies its latest commercial vehicles.
The two companies say the batteries “have been developed to have a longer life, higher performance, and safer use than other competitive lithium-ion batteries,” Greentech notes. “Horton says improved features are a result of better packaging of the lithium-ion battery, not necessarily the chemistry. But eking out range for city customers was important.”
Greentech identifies Proterra as one of the better-funded cleantech start-ups, with US$195 million from investors like Kleiner Perkins, General Motors, GM Ventures, BMW’s venture fund, BMW iVentures, and Generation Investment Management, a fund partly managed by Climate Reality Project founder Al Gore.