Electric Bus manufacturer Proterra has recently received an investment of $155 million from the German automotive corporation, Daimler. Daimler is the largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in the world, and the two companies plan to collaborate to convert a variety of heavy-duty vehicles to sustainable electric energy. The first project that the Daimler-Proterra partnership seeks to tackle will be electric school buses for Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses division. Both companies hope to capitalize on America’s growing interest in electric buses.
Daimler and Proterra Work Together for Electric School Buses
When it comes to electric buses in the United States, Proterra is one of the leading companies, having over 90 customers across the country. The idea behind working on electric school buses is that most school buses operate on predictable timetables each day, and therefore can be incorporated using Proterra’s EV technology with relative feasibility. This is a bit of a departure from Proterra’s typical focus on transit buses, however the company believes that this is a move that makes sense. Eventually, Daimler and Proterra hope to work together to explore making a number of Daimler’s heavy-duty vehicles electric. This partnership will give both companies the chance to gain recognition within the U.S. and overseas. Daimler is already planning on testing electric versions of its Cascadia heavy-duty truck in Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The Future of Electric Buses in America
Daimler sees an enormous potential in the market in green buses for both public transit districts and school systems in the United States and around the world to reduce CO2 emissions. The company is already planning on unveiling its range of electrically powered vehicles, such as the eCitaro city bus, at the annual IAA truck show in Hannover, Germany. The company remains optimistic with its new partnership with Proterra. Daimler AG board member, Martin Daum has said “We expect the cooperation with Proterra to deliver additional impetus for the development of heavy-duty commercial vehicles with electric drive. In this way, we are broadening our scope in particular concerning the key technology of the battery – also with regard to North America.”
Proterra is also hoping to hit the ground running on the trend of transit agencies opting for electric bus fleets. According to Navigant Research, Electric Buses are estimated to capture roughly 15% of the American market by 2025. The state of California has massive potential and more than 160 public transit agencies in this state have been operating 132 battery-electric and fuel cell electric buses, and an additional 655 electric buses are either on order, have been awarded or planned according to the California Air Resources Board. The state has spent $25 million to encourage school districts to replace conventional school buses with zero-emission alternatives. The city of Los Angeles plans to go fully electric by 2030, and Proterra opened its factory just east of L.A. with the hopes of building 400 electric buses each year. Outside of California, five electric buses have been provided to New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority in a trial, and other cities have made smaller purchases and trials.