Automotive

Proterra Catalyst XR electric bus delivers 258-mile range results

Proterra Catalyst XR electric ...
The Catalyst XR achieved a distance of 258 mi (415 km) on a single charge, with an average energy consumption of 0.8 kWh/mi
The Catalyst XR achieved a distance of 258 mi (415 km) on a single charge, with an average energy consumption of 0.8 kWh/mi
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The Catalyst XR achieved a distance of 258 mi (415 km) on a single charge, with an average energy consumption of 0.8 kWh/mi
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The Catalyst XR achieved a distance of 258 mi (415 km) on a single charge, with an average energy consumption of 0.8 kWh/mi
Proterra believes its ten-pack XR configuration, which provides a total energy capacity of 321 kWh, could achieve 300 mi (483 km) on a single charge
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Proterra believes its ten-pack XR configuration, which provides a total energy capacity of 321 kWh, could achieve 300 mi (483 km) on a single charge

One of the biggest limitations of electric buses is range. Now, though, a US company has eked out over 250 miles (402 km) from one of its electric buses. The Proterra Catalyst XR is said to afford the best efficiency rating ever for a 40-ft (12-m) transit bus, at 22 mpg (12.8 l/l00 km) equivalent.

Electric buses are already in use in, or due to roll out to, a number of major cities around the world, including Gothenburg and London. Despite this, the technology is still relatively embryonic and so continues to be developed apace.

In developing its own such technology, Proterra says its ultimate aim is to deliver an electric bus that can serve any typical transit route in the US. It points out that General Transit Feed Specification data shows that typical US urban and rural bus routes cover less than 200 mi (322 km) a day. This means that the most routes in the country are now within the range of the Catalyst XR.

The bus tested was fitted with a new generation of storage technology comprising eight battery packs and providing a total energy capacity of 257 kWh. Not only was the storage technology developed to achieve an increased range, but the bus itself is said to have been designed entirely with range and efficiency in mind, with an aerodynamic body made from carbon fiber and advanced composite materials among its features.

Proterra believes its ten-pack XR configuration, which provides a total energy capacity of 321 kWh, could achieve 300 mi (483 km) on a single charge
Proterra believes its ten-pack XR configuration, which provides a total energy capacity of 321 kWh, could achieve 300 mi (483 km) on a single charge

"They really are the only transit vehicle that's been designed, engineered and built from the ground up to be an electric vehicle," explains CEO of Proterra Ryan Popple. "All of the previous attempts in this market have started with a steel vehicle that was designed to be a diesel or a natural gas vehicle."

The aim of the test was to achieve as high a mileage as possible on a single charge, with Proterra expecting to maybe achieve 200 mi (322 km). Being driven at an average speed of 30 mph (48 km/h), the Catalyst XR achieved an eventual distance of 258 mi (415 km), with an average energy consumption of 0.8 kWh/mi (0.5 kWh/km).

That distance is significantly larger than 155 mi (250 km) range of the BYD electric bus, which seems to be regarded as having the highest range otherwise. Furthermore, based on these results, Proterra believes its 10-pack XR configuration, which provides a total energy capacity of 321 kWh, could achieve 300 mi (483 km) on a single charge.

The Proterra Catalyst XR was tested at Michelin’s Laurens Proving Grounds.

The video below provides an insight into the test.

Source: Proterra

Proterra Catalyst Range Test: 258 Miles on a Single Charge

7 comments
Gizzyfuel
Two question. If there is a flood how well will this bus hold up and what if it get fender bender or smashed by another car how well would the battery be at absorbing the shock.
mhpr262
258 instead of 200 miles ... a pleasant surprise no doubt, but some engineer should ask himself how his calculations could be off by more than 25% ...
Freyr Gunnar
How much do they cost, as compared to trolleybuses that have been available for decades? Besides, trolleybuses can have a small diesel engine in case they need to stray a bit away from their usual route during construction work. Aren't electric buses an expensive solution to a non-problem?
c4jjm
When you buy a car, you don't look at the 'highway' milage if you ONLY drive in the city....Great, they did a continuous driving test at 30 MPH, but buses don't average 30 MPH, and they don't drive continuously for 200 miles. They drive 200 miles of horribly inefficient stopping and going all day long, 200 miles probably means 250+ start/stops....even with regenerative breaking, I would be amazed if they got 150 miles out of this electric bus. They specifically don't mention stopping at all, so I'd say this number is about as relevant as my instant MPG while doing 75 down hill, with my foot off the accelerator...
swaan
1) mhpr262 - Might be PR. Might be that engineers were just really conservative so they wouldn't get their butts kicked. Proterra is B2B afterall - you can't toss around numbers and hope that nobody can/will validate them. 2) Gizzyfuel - Don't know a single EV thats mass-produced and doesn't take flooding into account. Both BYD and Proterra let you choose how many packs you want - in an accident/flood a pack (or all if it rolls down a hill) would be disconnected - every EV does that. Even many DIYs as this is essential safety. Rest of the electronics are very much the same like in usual vehicles - like a lead-acid battery for 12/24V equipment. 3) c4jjm - it was a hyper-miling test yes but as far as I can see from real world use - both BYD and Proterra deliver what they promise in terms of range. BYD has buses worldwide and Proterra in many states in the US. They are bought precisely because they are way more efficient than ICE counterparts in start-stop conditions and tackle steeper hills too. At the end of the day lifetime ROI decides whether an EV or ICE is bought/leased and its looking brighter by the day for buses like this Proterra. 4) Freyr Gunnar - Same as 3) - EV buses are cheaper to run (lifetime) in cities than ICEs - even CNG and LPG! Same is now in the process of becoming true for regional lines. They are simply way more efficient, require way less maintenance. What most don't know is that the batteries are sold after the End Of Life of a bus (12-15yrs) as they can still compete well with lead-acid batteries in stationary storage. Both Proterra and BYD offer battery warranties that outlast typical bus lifetimes (ICE or EV). Trolley buses are cheaper for now yes if there are overhead lines already in place. If not then for really heavy lines you are better off with an electric tram (at least in Europe). Many companies are now producing quick-charge EV buses for heavy lines - they have a small battery than can only go less than 10 miles but can fully charge with an automatic overhead charger in a few minutes. A driver needs breaks and some stops are long so there are no delays and the buses aren't expensive.
Paul Anthony
What kind of regenerative breaking are they doing? Do they utilize flywheel, capacitive, or some other storage?
swaan
Paul - in EVs you use traction motors in reverse - as generators and that power is stored directly in battery packs in case of larger packs and in case of tiny packs (overhead quickcharging) you either have a chemistry that allows rapid charging/discharging or you use super-capacitors to lessen the blow on the battery pack(s). This is preferred simply because it is reliable and cost effective. For example the luxury ev sedan Tesla Model S has a max regenerative braking capacity of 60kW! It can be dialled so strong that you hardly have to use the brakes at all! The disc pads can easily outlast the life of the vehicle this way!