|Comparing fuel costs and fuel efficiency. Source: GM. Click to enlarge.|
General Motors Ventures LLC will invest $6 million in Proterra Inc., a leading maker of battery-electric commercial transit buses. GM Ventures is part of an investment group, led by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, that will invest a total of $30 million in the bus manufacturer.
Proterra’s EcoRide BE-35 battery electric bus (earlier post) is averaging up to 24 mpg (diesel equivalent) in service, a more than 600% improvement over a typical diesel bus. Using technology developed by Proterra, the lightweight, composite-body bus recharges in about 10 minutes.
This equity investment further demonstrates GM’s commitment to electric propulsion and supports our commitment to identify and invest in technology solutions that help advance the global transportation industry. While this investment will help Proterra commercialize its electric bus and fast-charging technology, it also helps to address the future challenges of urban mobility.—Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures
Proterra Inc. was founded in 2004 and is currently manufacturing buses in a temporary plant in Greenville, S.C. near Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Proterra’s TerraVolt energy storage system consists of 54-72 kWh lithium titanate battery packs that recharge in 10 minutes using the company’s roof-mounted Fast Fill recharging system.
Three EcoRide BE-35 buses are currently in a test fleet near Pomona, Calif., with additional buses to be added, and new buses and charging stations are also headed to San Antonio and Tallahassee, Fla., later this year. This investment allows Proterra to complete federal validation testing of its bus, roll out additional pilot fleets and complete initiatives to significantly reduce costs and increase volume production at its Greenville, S.C. manufacturing plant, which will have the capacity to produce 400 buses annually.
With up to a 40-mile (64 km) range for the under 10-minute fast charge application, the EcoRide BE-35 can replace 80% of diesel buses in typical transit and shuttle use without altering schedules or passenger service. The EcoRide can also be configured for longer ranges while charging at a central location.
General Motors Ventures, LLC, is a subsidiary designed to help the company identify and develop innovative technologies in the automotive/transportation sector. General Motors Ventures, LLC, has been funded with an initial investment of $100 million, and is currently exploring equity investments in a number of auto-related technologies and business models.