US based electric bus specialist Proterra says it has plans to provide drivetrains it uses for its buses to builders of other heavy-duty vehicles and trucks.
The company has launched a new venture, a Proterra Powered, to provide much of the technology
“Commercial urban fleets are the best use case for EV technology,” said Ryan Popple, chief executive of the California based Proterra.
The company says that falling battery costs, improved electric powertrain technology and lowered maintenance costs are all helping fuel the transition.
Proterra has sold more than 700 buses in North America since it was established six years ago. In 2017 it opened a factory in the City of Industry, just east of Los Angeles, with the plant capable of building 400 electric buses annually in a 30,000-square-metre factory.
Daimler Trucks has become a significant investor in the company and with Proterra Powered, the company is expanding its business model with the goal of of helping vehicle manufacturers switch to electric drivetrains, selling both battery technology and heavy-duty charging systems as well as offering design consulting and charging infrastructure.
“The experience really depends on the partner,” Popple said. “Some are further along in their electrification efforts and may just be looking for one aspect of the technology to support their EV program while others may want us to develop the vehicle with them every step of the way.”
Proterra Powered has grown out of several manufacturer partnerships the bus maker has made in recent years. The company reached a deal to provide batteries for electric buses made by the Belgian Van Hool in 2017 while in 2018 it started making the battery system for electric versions of the double-deckers from British maker Alexander Dennis.
Daimler Trucks invested $ US155 million in Proterra last year with the automotive giant seeing a growing market for green buses as public transit districts and school systems in the U.S. and globally moving to reduce emissions.
Daimler’s Thomas Built bus division will incorporate Proterra’s battery and drivetrain technologies into its North American school buses. Electric school buses are expected to capture about 15 per cent of the U.S. market by 2025.
The partnership also extends to Daimler’s heavy-duty trucks with the two companies declariung they plan to explore electrification of select Daimler heavy-duty vehicles.
Daimler will begin testing electric versions of the Cascadia heavy-duty truck at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach later this year.
Proterra has also launched Proterra Energy to help heavy-duty vehicle fleets transition to electric power. The service works with utilities and electricity providers to install charging equipment, identify renewable energy options and negotiate the best electricity rates.
Proterra has recently authorised shares to raise a further $US75 million, as part of a new round of funding that would push the electric bus maker’s valuation past $US1 billion.