Electric buses have become quite a popular news item over the past few years, and rightfully so. The impact that replacing one diesel car with an electric has on the environment is great, but that of replacing a diesel bus with an electric is much greater. Many city officials have advertised electric buses to be included in the public transport system of major metropolitan areas across the UK and The Netherlands, among others. But what prevents the EV from taking over the entire public transport is the battery system, which could not provide enough power to move the heavy bus for a long distance.
Now, a new design by the promising US-based start up Proterra, might actually offer exactly what was missing, and eliminate once and for all the reasons and excuses for not swapping all public buses with electric. In the latest performance tests, Proterra’s new electric bus managed to travel more than 258 miles on a single charge. In other words, the distance is nearly twice as long as a regular public bus route, not to mention it is also much longer than what many of the small electric cars can do.
The secret behind out-performing any other electric bus ever made, is hidden in a number of new and improved features. Firstly, its design greatly differs from a diesel powered bus, simply because the engine is no longer the heaviest component of the vehicle- the battery is. In addition, the bus is made of ultra light carbon fiber, which reduces the overall weight of the vehicle enormously. And last but not least, the battery technology is the state-of-the-art long-range storage system, also used by Tesla in their electric cars.
According to the CEO of Proterra, Ryan Popple (an early employee of Tesla), electric cars might be sexy and desired, but electric buses are much more exciting, and can be of service to a lot more people than the lucky few electric car wealthy owners. Popple admits that if the bus is full of people, it might not be able to cover the full 250 miles that it achieved in the tests, but he is convinced there will be no problem to bring travelers along the average 130 miles bus route.
Nevertheless, Popple has set a 300 miles target for the upcoming new model, and has fitted a fast-charging technology that can juice up the battery in about 5 minutes, just in case.
The first buses of this type will run in Southern California next year. Popple hopes that before the batteries need replacing in about 5 years, the range of his technology will be at least 100 miles better.
Image (c) Proterra