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Proterra beats out BYD for Mineta San José International Airport electric bus contract; 10 Proterra electric buses to be in service by late 2018

The San José, California, City Council approved the purchase of ten Proterra Catalyst E2 battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure for use at the Norman Y. Mineta San José International Airport (SJC).

Proterra’s E2 series 35-foot electric buses feature a 440 kWh battery pack to deliver an estimated range of 251 miles. Proterra was bidding against BYD for the airport contract. With a per-bus price of $759,824, Proterra beat out BYD with a per-bus price of $969,498.

The Council selected Proterra as SJC’s battery-electric bus provider citing the company’s sustainability, performance and operational cost-savings excellence. This purchase marks Proterra’s first airport electric bus deployment in the San Francisco Bay Area. Scheduled to be placed in service in late 2018, the buses will be designed and built in California at Proterra’s Los Angeles County manufacturing facility.

With 12 million passengers annually, SJC currently provides on-site shuttle buses to transport passengers and luggage among the airport’s short- and long-term parking lots, consolidated rental car garage and terminals, with a fleet of compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.

Funded in part by a $3.8-million zero-emissions vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the new Proterra battery-electric buses will replace these older CNG buses, resulting in the elimination 3.1 million pounds of greenhouse gas tailpipe emissions over the lifetime of these vehicles.

Since the Proterra electric buses have no combustion engine, riders will enjoy a quieter, smoother, exhaust-free ride. In addition to traveler benefits, the operational cost of electricity, at $.19/mile, is substantially lower than diesel, at $.84/mile.

Combining this with greatly improved vehicle efficiency, at 21 MPG equivalent, vs. 5 MPG for their current CNG buses and reduced vehicle maintenance costs will result in an estimated savings of about $4 million during the 12-year lifetime of these ten new Proterra buses.

SJC has already launched a number of initiatives to address the concerns and interests of the community and the environment. These include recycling and composting programs supporting a zero-waste commitment by 2022; a 1MW, 3.4-acre solar array powering the airport’s rental car garage; and a shift to airside electric service vehicles reducing emissions from operations.

Complementing these efforts, SJC’s Terminal B received a Silver LEED certification—one of the first airports in the US to receive the honor—for its innovative use of building materials to reduce energy use.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot Program was created in 2012 to improve airport air quality and facilitates use of zero emissions technologies at airports. Grants are awarded for up to 50% of the cost of zero emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure.



I'm surprised that Proterra came in cheaper than BYD with the latter's economies of scale.

More details of their costings would be interesting.

I suspect it is enabled by various grants and subsidies not available to BYD


Does an airport shuttle bus need 251 mile range?


This is a win-win-win+ solution at a very low price tag.

Shuttle buses make many runs/day and can't stop for hours for recharges.

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