Proterra Catalyst XR Electric Bus With 258-Mile Range Is The Bus Of The Future

Environmental concerns often prompt scientists and engineers to develop sustainable alternatives to traditional public transportation. These days, many are looking to solar and wind energy in order to power electric vehicles and lessen carbon emissions.

Soon, electric buses may also fill up the streets.

Proterra, a startup run by former Tesla employee Ryan Popple, has designed an electric bus that can surpass the mile range of the average bus on a city or rural route.

A recent test drive showed that the Proterra Catalyst XR can drive up to 258 miles on a single charge. The electric bus can also be recharged in only 10 minutes. In real-world conditions, such as traveling on rough roads, in harsh weather or loaded with passengers, the Proterra may still overtake the typical bus, which only covers less than 200 miles every day.

Popple believes that it is important to discontinue the application of legacy technology.

"If you tell your engineering group one of the rules they have to stick by is they have to use all the old parts from the parts bin, you're going to end up with a terrible product," said Popple.

With its aerodynamic design, the body of the Proterra Catalyst XR is built with advanced composite materials and carbon fiber to reduce inevitable wear and tear. A small energy system containing eight battery packs powers the 40-foot-long vehicle.

Compared to most buses made of metal, the Proterra Catalyst XR is lighter, which results in better veering and acceleration. Using the electric bus is also said to incur cheaper maintenance costs, which can save a city an estimated $135,000 over a few years.

The Proterra Catalyst XR will be sold in 2016 to Foothill Transit, a company that operates in Southern California.

Meanwhile, the Washington State Department of Transportation, along with the Department of Enterprise Services, is soliciting proposals from Proterra and seven other manufacturers as the state prepares to purchase multiple vehicles for public transport.

Proterra's technology makes it a good choice for a wide range of campus and transit routes. With its battery system, the manufacturer brings a more efficient and more environment-friendly mode of transportation.

Popple hopes that, in the near future, almost every bus in the U.S. runs on this type of battery technology. He says there is "no physical reason" why quiet, zero-emission and high-tech electric buses cannot be deployed around the country.

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