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Proterra offers single-blade overhead fast-charging technology to transit industry on royalty-free basis

In a move intended to accelerate wider adoption of EV technology and development of the supporting infrastructure, electric bus manufacturer Proterra will open its overhead on-route fast-charging technology to the transit industry on a royalty-free basis.

With the recent issuance of foundational patents (Nºs 8324858, 8829853 and 9352658) covering this technology, Proterra will offer a complete technology package to the market. Proterra will grant anyone royalty-free access to its patents covering its single-blade overhead charging design. This includes the bus-mounted, single-blade charging design and the overhead charging coupler.

Consistent with this, Proterra is working with its suppliers to open up Proterra’s single-blade overhead charging design for direct sale to third parties. The single-blade technology references a unit in which all the charging electrodes are incorporated (attached, embedded, etc.) in a single member (or blade) that projects from the roof of the EV, and the charging station components that interface with the blade to charge the EV.

Patent figure 00131237
Picture (top) and diagram of Proterra single-blade overhead charger. Click to enlarge.

To meet the needs of transit operations, the single-blade vehicle coupling mechanism supports a charging voltage range of 250-1000 VDC, and can provide electrical current of up to 1400 amps, with safety taking the highest priority in these systems. Proterra specifically designed the technology to limit exposure to high voltage components, unlike catenary or third-rail solutions.

The company said that while it has developed a broad portfolio of intellectual property that covers a wide range of charging technologies, the single blade charging technology was the one it chose to commercialize, because the company had found it to be the safest and most effective.

Providing open access to this technology will enable international standards to include the safety features of this solution— benefitting the entire industry, the company noted.

As more and more electric buses operate on U.S. roads, it will be critical for the transit industry to have access to open technology platforms in order to effectively scale this technology and enhance the transit industry, With Proterra opening up its technology to other manufacturers, this will significantly benefit communities across the nation with this proven technology. Together they can move the industry forward.

—Lee Gibson, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Nevada

With more than 2.4 million miles of revenue service across the United States, Proterra has more battery-electric buses on US roads today than any other manufacturer, and the Proterra single-blade overhead fast-charge system is the most utilized on-route charging technology in the industry.

Over the past five years, public transit agencies across the country have performed more than 250,000 charging events using the Proterra single-blade overhead fast-charge system, providing these agencies with the flexibility of keeping their buses on the road all-day, and seamlessly integrating electric buses with existing route schedules.

At Proterra, we’re focused on designing and manufacturing the safest, highest-performing EV transit solutions on the market, but we’re also determined to enhance and expand the sector as a whole. We believe that everyone benefits from open platforms and greater customer choice. We hope that this decision will encourage even more transit agencies to bring clean, quiet, emission-free vehicles to our city streets and community roadways.

—Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra


  • 8324858, Charging Stations for Electric Vehicles

  • 8829853, Methods and Systems for Charging Vehicles

  • 9352658, Charging of Electric Vehicles


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