“Everything that has an urban drive cycle will ultimately be an electric vehicle.” says Ryan Popple, president and CEO of Proterra, the leading electric bus manufacturer in America. That includes garbage trucks, delivery vans, food trucks, campus shuttles, and any vehicle that travels a known route on a daily basis.

Proterra electric bus charging system

The key, Popple says, is superfast charging equipment that can give an electric bus from Proterra 2 to 3 hours more driving time in as little as 5 minutes. The same equipment could be used to keep any type of large vehicle charged up and ready to work without ever running out of battery power.

Regenerative braking also is a critical part of the equation. A Proterra electric bus can recapture as much as 92% of its kinetic energy while slowing down. That allows each bus to go further on a single charge. The company has shown its buses can travel more than 700 miles in 24 hours using its fast charging system.

“The world’s most fuel-efficient bus, the Proterra Catalyst™, is available with on-route, fast-charge technology that enables infinite range and in-yard slow charging,” said Bloomberg New Energy Finance recently. It named Proterra one of its 10 disruptive “New Energy Pioneers” of 2015.

People who read Gas2 regularly tend to believe in the promise of clean transportation powered by renewable energy. But we also know that market forces will play a critical role in the changeover from conventional vehicles to electric transportation solutions. Bus fleet operators aren’t going to invest in clean transportation technology until the numbers add up.

Popple says that day is already here. Each Proterra electric bus has three to four times the fuel economy of a conventional diesel powered bus. That means fleet operators can save up to $400,000 per vehicle over its 10 – 12 year useful life. Battery prices have come down so fast that it is now cheaper to drive electric. An electric bus costs more initially, but Proterra is now offering programs that allow customers to buy the bus and lease the batteries. That way, the upfront cost is the same and the monthly fuel savings more than offset the lease payments.

Since the plan has proven itself in real world use, commercial lenders are now willing to finance the lease/purchase contracts. That allows Proterra to get paid at the time of delivery. The arrangement is very similar to the financial products that have led to an explosion in the rooftop solar industry. Proterra currently enjoys an 18 month backlog of orders for its Catalyst electric bus.

With super fast charging and lower operating costs, electric vehicles will be the norm in cities within 10 years, Popple claims. Electric vehicle charging will also benefit from a growing supply of renewable energy from solar panels during daylight hours. The more electricity can be stored in vehicle batteries, the less will need to be stored in grid storage facilities.

It is no wonder that Ryan Popple is the leader of Proterra. He was involved in the early days of Tesla Motors and shares the same commitment to ending the reign of fossil fueled vehicles as Elon Musk. His focus is on large vehicles while Tesla concentrates on private passenger cars, but both are making major contributions to the end days for oil.

Source: Think Progress