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Proterra electric bus travels 1,100 miles without recharging

A 40-foot (12.19-meter) electric bus from Proterra Inc traveled 1,101.2 miles (1,772.21 km) at low speed without recharging, cruising to a new electric vehicle range record, the California manufacturer said on Tuesday.

Bus and truck companies are beginning to launch electric models, typically for light- and medium-duty tasks. The new technology often carries a high price, though, and a major challenge is creating vehicles with acceptable range at a competitive price.

A typical Proterra bus costs around $750,000 compared with roughly $500,000 for a typical diesel bus, chief commercial officer Matt Horton said in an interview. Proterra has lower operating costs but must convince customers that the higher sticker price is worth paying.


“Heavy-duty electric transit vehicles now have the capabilities they need. We will be turning our focus even more so to driving the cost down,” he said.

While battery weight is seen as a problem for heavy-duty trucks, eating into cargo capacity, Horton said that a bus is much lighter than a loaded big rig, even with a full complement of passengers.

Proterra developed the battery for its bus with Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. The bus maker has begun assembling battery packs at a new factory in Burlingame, California. It sold 190 buses last year and is on track to “far exceed” that this year, Horton said.

Navistar Proving Ground confirmed the single-charge trip, at 15 miles per hour. Proterra said it set the record earlier this month and beat a previous record of 1,013 miles by a light-duty passenger vehicle.