The electric car is definitely an exciting prospect for the future and as all major manufacturers now have a model or two, we can expect that in the next 25 years, the roads will be congested with electric cars.
But that is still the problem with the cars. Congestion on our city roads and highways. Electric bus transportation as well as a mix of other types such as light rail and subways is the future. Elon Musk in his recent Masterplan: Part Two explains, Tesla is looking to change the heavy duty truck and high density-passenger transport. Now in the early development stages, the first Tesla Semi will reduce cost of cargo transport. And with the autonomous bus fleets, comes smaller buses, reduced traffic congestion and potential to take passengers right to their final destination.
Proterra, an electric bus manufacturer in South Carolina, that currently has 23 municipal customers in the US, has recently unveiled its latest bus called the Catalyst E2. The E2 has solved what most industry people say is the biggest reason they have not considered trading in the hybrid or diesel fleets for full electric. Range.
The average bus travels 210km a day. Current battery systems for buses can average about 45-50% of total range before needing a charge. That is not good enough. So Proterra tackled the battery issue over the last two years and have now unveiled the E2. With 660 kWh of energy and a range of 564 km for E2 Max, the company managed to achieve results that now make even longer distance bus routes between cities look possible.
When looking at building a new type of vehicle such as a pure electric bus with more range than any bus ever built, the company decided to completely start from scratch . If there is no engine, cooling system or exhaust system, the design “under the hood” can be completely revamped.
Maintenance cost for transit authorities will drop significantly as there are 30% less moving parts, 75% fewer brake repairs, no oil changes and no expensive exhaust after treatments. The company says that these result in up to $237,00 USD of savings over the lifetime of the bus compared to diesel hybrid.
Steel bus frames experience corrosion throughout their year life span. Proterra has built a composite bus body that maximizes vehicle life and minimizes repairs and maintenance. And with the composite body come huge savings in weight. So this reduces wear and tear on roads and maximizes performance. With a high power-to-weight ratio it has the best acceleration in the transit bus market. Zero to 32km per hour in less than 7 seconds. Zoom zoom!
Even when something is electric we still need to think about how much energy is need to be produced to power to run it.
If we look at Diesel, Hybrid and CNG buses, the cost per mile is as follows.
The Proterra buses get 21.4 MPGe = $0.19 per mile.
Even the most cynical person can appreciate how great it would be if we did not have any cars, trucks, buses and machinery spewing exhaust into the air. Looking a typical diesel bus that emits more that 300,000 lbs. of greenhouse gases annual. Taking that and the particulate matter from traditional transit buses that contain numerous harmful gases and upwards of 40 cancer-causing substances out of the air is a great way to improve our quality of life on our planet.
Exciting times are ahead for this market and it will be great when a bus pulls up quietly to a bus stop and you hop on knowing that your ride to work or home is a clean, green one.