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Electric bus maker Proterra raises more than $30M; Kleiner Perkins and GM led

19 June 2014

Battery-electric bus manufacturer Proterra Inc. has raised more than $30 million in additional funding to accelerate further deployment of its EV transit technology. Participation in this round of funding was bolstered by rapidly growing demand for electric vehicles in transit, as well as additional deployments by existing customers. Kleiner Perkins and GM Ventures led the financing, with significant growth funding from other existing investors.

Proterra has battery-electric transit buses currently in use in cities across the country. The company’s first-generation product build slots are filled through the remainder of the year, and Proterra plans to introduce its new second generation product to the transit industry later this year.

Another $10 million in funding is expected to close within the coming weeks, bringing the total for the financing to $40 million. Edison Energy, Inc. and Constellation Technology Ventures, the venture capital arm of Exelon, have re-invested, expressing enthusiasm for the technology’s ability to allow the electrical grid to benefit consumers more broadly. Tao Invest, Vision Ridge Partners and Hennessey Capital also joined Kleiner Perkins and GM Ventures, with Mitsui & Co. Global Investment, Inc. and 88 Green Ventures set to follow by month’s end. In conjunction with the investment closing, Michael Smith, Constellation vice president and head of Constellation Technology Ventures, will join Proterra’s Board.

Proterra is focused on purpose-built battery-electric vehicles for the transit industry. The vehicle incorporates lightweight composites, a custom heavy-duty electric driveline and autonomous recharging. Proterra electric vehicles have logged more than 400,000 zero-emission miles in 11 US cities.

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Volvo Canada managed to get about the same funds to do about the same thing Proterra is doing and will have the first test units on city streets sometime in 2016/2017. Volvo's e-buses will have smaller batteries (than BYD's) and will need quick charges at end of major routes.

Meanwhile, since the fully electrified version will not be ready for another 4 to 5 years, Volvo Canada is manufacturing 500+ Hybrid City Buses to replace 14-15 years old diesel units.

BYD China is already mass producing 5,000+ extended range city e-buses for the local and export markets. Those e-buses only need a full charge per 8-hour shift. The units recently tested (April and May 2014) in Canada performed as expected and as per specifications.

Two or three equivalent e-buses are being developed in EU countries and will be ready in about the same time frame.

By 2020 or so, more than half a dozen city e-buses will be available and mass produced in China, Canada, USA, and EU countries. Production rate will certainly be over 10,000/year.

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