Proterra put its Catalyst E2 Max to the test in Indiana and it passed with flying colors; it completed its route on a single charge. These buses could be on city streets sooner than you think. (Photo from Proterra)


Company made a battery the size of a bus, builds a bus around it.


With more electric cars driving down the highway, it makes sense that the next step is electric busses. While the technology is available, it needs to advance in order to be efficient. Proterra might have just proved they’re ready to hit the road. The California based company’s Catalyst E2 Max drove 1,102.2 miles on a single charge, breaking the world record for the longest distance traveled by an electric vehicle without recharging. Tests were conducted at Navistar’s proving grounds in Indiana. They also confirmed the results.


Proterra’s electric bus uses a 660Wh battery, which is stored in the 40-foot-long bus body. While they’re not the first company to have battery-powered buses, their result is impressive when compared to those of Tesla and Hyundai. Tesla’s Model S P100S has a 100kWh battery to achieve a 315-mile range. Hyundai is working on their Elec City bus that has a 180-mile range powered by a 256kWh battery.


At this time, there are no transit agencies using an E2 Max, but companies are showing interest. Proterra offers a model with a 350-mile range and agreed to supply Foothill Transit in Southern California with a 35-foot model with a 35-mile range that can be recharged in ten minutes.


The results of Proterra’s test are impressive, but there are still some factors to consider before electric buses completely replace internal combustion models. How long does it take the bus to recharge? For a vehicle like a bus, this may not be a huge issue since they don’t travel along the roads at high speeds. Also, they could easily recharge at the end of their route. But just to stay on the safe side, Proterra developed a high-speed charging system for their buses. Still, their E2 Max model needs about an hour to get back to a full charge.


Another factor to think about is the cost. A Proterra bus costs roughly $750,000; it’s about $500,000 for a typical diesel bus. The company does have lower operating costs, but with such a high sticker price to get the bus in the first price, they have a tough sale on their hands. With many cities facing their own budget crisis, it’s hard to argue the need for electric buses when the price is so high. So, don’t expect to see these vehicles on the road anytime soon.


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