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Clean Transport Proterro electric bus

Published on April 8th, 2015 | by Tina Casey

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Proterra Diesel-Killing Electric Bus Is Ready For Prime Time (CT Exclusive Interview)

April 8th, 2015 by  


When it comes to electric vehicle sexytimes, naturally, thoughts turn to the Tesla Model S, but over here at CleanTechnica, we do try to keep things clean, so we’ll focus on Proterra, the electric bus company that is dead set on killing off diesel buses, one transit agency at a time. After selling 100 electric buses on a demo basis out of South Carolina, Proterra is vaulting into full-scale production at its spanking new California facility, where it expects to churn out 424 more in short order.

Speaking of Tesla, last month our sister site Gas2.org made the point that for just a couple of bucks per ride, practically anyone could get a Tesla-style electric vehicle experience — well, sort of — on an electric bus, so let’s see what Proterra is up to.

Proterro electric bus

Get Ready For The Electric Bus Revolution

Especially for urban areas with air pollution problems, the advantage of the electric bus over diesel is significant. Add quiet to emission-free, and you have a killer combination that makes city life much more pleasant.

The main obstacle, of course, is cost, and that’s where Proterra comes in. The company’s Catalyst™ 40-foot electric bus platform clocks in at 21.4 MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) for an average cost of 19 cents per mile. That stacks up rather nicely against the average transit bus, which chugs along in the range of 3 (yes, three) miles per gallon.

While your typical electric bus might cost more up front, the lifetime savings can more than make up for it.

Proterra totes up the lifetime maintenance savings for the Catalyst over diesel at $135,000. No engine oil changes, 30% fewer moving parts, longer-lasting brakes, and a corrosion resistant body factor in.



The Electric Bus Leaps Into The Limelight

That’s just for starters. We had a chance to speak with Proterra VP of Sales and Marketing Matt Horton earlier this week, and he pointed out that fuel savings are “really where the economics will push the marketplace.”

When you consider the public transit buses average around 50,000 miles per year, that 21.4 MPGe is going to add up to big bucks.

Proterra also trimmed down costs related to refueling with a quick-charging system.

Horton foresees that within 5 to 10 years, the majority of transit agencies will go all-electric. While that might sound a bit optimistic, the company’s electric buses have already logged a million miles of service with 14 different transit agencies.

As mentioned earlier, that figure is based on a demonstration scale production model, and according to Horton, demand is so high that Proterra’s South Carolina facility has an 18-month backlog.

“The early adopters have already adopted,” is the way Horton puts it, and it appears that hesitant transit managers are beginning to look at the growing pile of real-world statistics for electric buses.

That’s a pie in the face for all those electric vehicle (EV) doubters out there who have been clinging to the notion that batteries don’t pack enough punch for heavy use, such as a full busload of people.

When you throw in future improvements elsewhere in the field, such as wireless bus charginghere’s another example — the technology could get even more attractive.

Back to Proterra, its new facility in California will enable the company to ramp up production while slashing prices, so let’s take a look at that.

Go West, Electric Bus

During our conversation, Horton explained that Proterra’s business model is based on setting up relatively small manufacturing facilities where its US customers are, rather than establishing one or two gigantic manufacturing plants to serve the entire country.

That helps to cut down on costs (delivery costs, for example), while providing more local economies with good-quality manufacturing jobs.

It also provides an opportunity to leverage local economic development support, and the new California facility is a good example of that strategy in action.

The support is coming in the form of a new $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission, to develop and construct the new facility in San Gabriel Valley.

With Proterra’s lean production model in mind, the whole thing is expected to be up and running later this year, putting more than 70 people to work.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, so Proterra is on the hook to demonstrate that the economic benefits of the new facility will offset the grant. The expectations are high, according to the company:

The project will accelerate private investment in California, bringing in $5,411,352 in private investment to match the $3,000,000 California Energy Commission investment, for a total project budget of $8,411,352.

In its press materials (embargoed as of this writing), Proterra is also proud to point out that it is the only bus manufacturer that won a grant from the California Energy Commission in the current round of funding.

Transit agencies are already beating down the doors to place orders. Concurrently with the aforementioned embargoed press release, Proterra has also announced that the San Gabriel/Pomona bus provider Foothill Transit put in an order for 13 of those first 424 buses, for delivery in 2016.

Foothill, btw, is an early adopter. The new order is its fourth over the past five years, and it will bring the company’s stable electric buses to almost 10% of its total fleet.

As an early adopter, Foothill gets bragging rights to the first of Proterra’s new extended-range Catalyst™ XR to roll off the assembly line at the new plant.

Foothill serves a population of about 14 million people in Los Angeles County, so that’s no small potatoes.

What Does An Electric Bus Have In Common With A Wind Turbine Blade?

Horton had many more interesting things to say about the electric bus market and Proterra’s cutting edge technology, but we’ll get to that in another post. In the meantime, he did throw out a little hint about wind turbine blades.

If you have any idea what he’s talking about, drop us a note in the comment thread.

Photo by Proterra

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • wric01

    Wish the fare would go down as well, it’s too costly nowadays with everything rising but your salary.

  • Mike Erickson

    Finally, a bright spot in the transit situation…way to go buses! Now if only the dinosaur diesel commuter rail systems could go electric, increase service runs per day, cut ticket prices, and expand into ‘new’ under served territories. Freight rail must go electric in urban/suburban areas, and stop the shipping of fossil carbon. Really, commuter rail can’t even consistently spot their car doors on the loading parts of platforms in Chicagoland!

  • oyeols

    I don’t see anywhere where the range of these things is mentioned though? I certainly wouldn’t want to be having to stop to charge for an hour every hour! Means I might end up making less money.

    • Bob_Wallace

      They’re being offered with various ranges.

      One version has a small range but recharges at some of the stops where it stops for passengers. The bus connects to an overhead charge outlet pretty much like electric trolley cars hook to the overhead wires. The bus can pick up enough electricity in a three minute stop to make it to the next stop.

      BYD buses have a 200 mile range. That’s enough for a daily service run, then an overnight recharge.

  • And here’s an extremely relevant comment from “No Way” on another CT article (the remainder of this comment is his/her original comment):

    A local study here has shown that for a mid size swedish city the TCO for an electric bus would be 24% less than for a conventional diesel bus (EDIT: Renewable energy stands for a large majority of the energy used in public transport, lots of diesel buses running on fossil fuels in the private sector still).

    http://www.bth.se/fou/forskinfo.nsf/all/49bb5b8b9ebab1a6c1257c42005f3b99/$file/Bus%20study%20poster%20LCM%202013.pdf

    Maybe not all that helpfull, but the most important picture from the study is this one

    From left to right…biogas, biodiesel, conventional diesel, number 4 is all electric bus with a higher number of fast chargers needed, number 5 is all electric with less fast chargers needed, 6 is traditional hybrid and 7 is a plug-in hybrid bus.

    Blue being the cost when buying the bus, red-ish being the energy cost, and the other colors other costs like maintenance etc.

    It will be a different story at different places but here it’s a no-brainer (even though every change always takes time) or at least it should be a no-brainer. The transition hasn’t really gotten much pace yet.

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/im-cleantechnica/leading_electric_bus_company_proterra_hits_1000000_mile_milestone_revenue_service/#comment-1935123286

  • Omega Centauri

    I’m gonna take a stab at the windturbine blade connection. WT blades are made from composites (stuff like layers of carbon fiber held together with glue). Composites maximize strength to weight, but are fairly pricey to manufacture. Maybe the body panels are composite?

    • TinaCasey

      You might be on to something…

      • Offgridman

        Tina, reading down through have been waiting for someone to take on the turbine blade to bus comparison, but I think that Omega Centauri only has it half right.
        In both cases you are looking at an industrial production technique of a large item. Much as over the past couple decades the costs of making blades has come way down while the quality and efficacy have increased why wouldn’t the same thing happen with the busses.
        The first ones were individually made with a lot of hand labor and production techniques being figured out. Now they have a specific assembly model that can be set in multiple places as you cited in the article, so production costs per bus are going to come down as with any mass produced item. While at the same time these individual shops will figure out their own improvements to the process and cheaper sourcing of materials with bulk purchasing that will be passed on and shared with all of the production sites.

    • Radical Ignorant

      Or buses can be charged when wind output is highest at night. So no need for new power generation.

    • karrlsam

      “corrosion resistant bodies”

    • Joseph Dubeau

      Balsa wood.

    • Jenny Sommer

      A turbine blade generates lift. This bus is designed to generate lift.

  • Joseph Dubeau

    I hope we see more of them in the valley.

  • nakedChimp

    cool

  • diesel school buses are an abomination pumping carcinogenic diesel fumes and particulate matter into the most vulnerable lungs there. electrify the american school bus fleet — now!

    • karrlsam

      School buses make 2 one hour runs a day and then sit for 21 hours, The capital cost of electric would never be recovered.

      • ADW

        I like to use the word “depends”.

        My town owns 7 buses and we buy a new one every 2 years then sell the old one. So we get 14 years or so per bus. During the school week they run typically for 6 hours per day given after school events. (2 hours in the AM, 4 hours in the afternoon and evening) with field trips some of them will run a solid 8 hours. But the trips are mostly short, sub 100 miles.

        The cost of a school bus is much less than a city bus, but I do not know the cost of an electric version.

        We are installing a PV array on our closed landfill which happens to be where we park our bus fleet. So we have chance to slowly convert to electric buses and charge with the new PV array. With long term planning it could be a win/win.

        • Bob_Wallace

          As battery prices fall it will be cheaper to build an electric bus than a diesel bus.

          Battery prices are falling very rapidly. I suspect the days of short-haul diesel buses are very limited. I doubt you will keep your last round of diesel buses 14 years. It will make more financial sense to get rid of them early.

          And we may well see companies converting diesel buses to electric.

      • Bob_Wallace

        You are assuming the cost of electric buses will stay high. It’s pretty clear that they will not.

      • Meanwhile, what are the capital costs of destroying young kids lungs with diesel fumes?

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Children are fungible.”

          – Heartless Institute

  • Mike333

    If you love your city you’d get these installed.
    Clean air and much less noise.
    Plus, economic savings.

  • Tony Dominski

    What do these pedestrian ponies cost of buy compared to a regular bus?

    • Bob_Wallace

      A lot more, but…

      “$850,000 cost is still pretty steep, especially compared to the standard $300,000 diesel-run bus. But the early investment pays off in the long run: Each bus requires about $5,000 to $10,000 a year for electricity; in comparison, the average diesel bus costs about $50,000 annually and natural gas buses cost about $30,000.”

      http://www.businessinsider.com/proterra-electric-buses-spur-more-teslas-2014-6#ixzz3WlGEKigx

      These numbers are about a year old. Battery prices continue to fall. But let’s look at what we’ve got.

      $400,000 more / $40,000 annual fuel savings = 10 year break even.

      There will also be maintenance cost savings. And there’s the external cost of diesel pollution, which is becoming a larger concern as more data pours in.

      • Jouni Valkonen

        What I do not understand. As has been shown in numerous occassions today tesla pays for their batteries around 200 dollars per kWh, give or take 30 dollars. Therefore batteries for electric bus should cost only about 40-80 000 dollars. Electric motors are cheaper than Diesel engines and they do not require at all maintenance. Tesla batteries can be supercharged to 50 % in 20 minutes and full charge takes one hour.

        As the economics are like this and keeps getting better every year, I wonder if it is only on the lack of knowledge by the politicians, why new Diesel busses are not just banned today. Because today electric busses should be cheaper than Diesel or hybrid buses. And not just cheaper but cheaper by good margin!

        Ps. yesterday I was cycling in the city center and I was required to hold my breath for about a minute, because Diesel bus that was in front of me blowed Diesel exhausts AND street dust directly to my face. Breathing there was just impossibility and I am pretty sure that in that particular location, the air quality was perhaps few million times worse than it was in Paris when they decided to ban half of the cars due to air pollution problem.

        And what mostly makes street dust toxic, is mostly the exhaust fumes and brake pad dust.

        • Rita

          I do remember seeing a story about a person in California, in a large city some decades ago, who was wearing a respirator and was walking and stated that the filter needed replacing about every 3-4 months.

          • One of my big reasons for being gung-ho about EVs is the global warming issue, but honestly, as I move around cities now, I am constantly thinking, “Man, it would be so much freakin’ nicer if everyone were driving EVs instead of these smelly things.” Then there’s also the noise benefit, something that is still almost invisible to us but is huge.

            Even if just buses and big trucks switched to EV technology, the quality of life in cities would be so much nicer. Hoping the transition goes faster than I am estimating.

          • Radical Ignorant

            Disagree 🙂 Noise issue is very “visible”. I’m dreaming of the day when this noise will end.

          • What I mean is, I think the vast majority of the population just assumes, “that’s how it is,” and doesn’t even consider the fact that we could eliminate much of that. Even when those of us who know of the possibility discuss it, I think it’s something we tend to overlook/undervalue.

          • Larry

            This BUS EV is what I call low hanging fruit. It’s to bad the company wants to charge a huge premium for something that as others point out could be done much cheaper, not to mention all the subsidies they are getting.

            Still am happy these type of projects are happening.

            P.S. I read your blog everyday AND I’m a conservative republican!

          • Thanks. 😀 The good news is that cleantech now attracts everyone. The bad news is that Congressional leadership is still split down party lines.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Toshiba SCiB lithium batteries. Liquid cooled. 100 kWh.

          30 “solid” mile range – loaded, AC or heat, at highway speed.

          http://www.fleetsandfuels.com/fuels/evs/2014/09/toshiba-lithium-for-new-proterra-40s/

          100 kWh at a conservative $300/kWh, all packed up, would be $30k. Credit of easily more than $10k for no diesel motor.

          Why the bus would cost $400k than a diesel bus makes little sense to me. They are using more lightweight materials which would add something.

          I’m guessing it’s a problem of manufacturing at low levels. Something that should be overcome with time.

          30 solid miles. I’m not finding data for typical bus route length but I’d bet that few are longer than that. Setting up chargers where buses overlap routes would minimize the number of chargers.

          • ADW

            Boston MBTA – fleet of 1,000 traveling approx 86,000 miles per day.
            Sec 3
            http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/documents/2014%20BLUEBOOK%2014th%20Edition.pdf

          • Ronald Brakels

            The Australian city of Adelaide bought one (and only one) custom made electric bus, called Tindo, eight years ago. It was built in the industrial powerhouse of New Zealand and cost about $400,000 Australian dollars. At the time that was about $335,000 US dollars. It has 25 passanger seats and two wheel chair bays which makes it the same or very close to the size of the BYD bus. Its range is 200 kilometers while the BYD bus’s range is 300 kilometers. The performance of the Tindo is equal to a diesel bus while the BYD bus is superior. So while the BYD product does have clear advantages, a lot of that is due to the Tindo being eight years old and it obviously does not cost $850,000 US dollars, or two and a half times as much as the Tindo bus, to make. What is happening is BYD is simply charging as much as it can, which is standard business practice. So while it does not cost $850,000 to make one electric bus, BYD can sell it for that much and so it does.

            Electric buses are going to come down a lot in price once the competition heats up, but purchasers need to be smart about this. They should be checking to see if New Zealand or local companies can do them a better deal.

          • Omega Centauri

            For small unit runs, R&D costs can be very substantial. Of course as the market and factory expand, the product can be optimized as well.
            I bet there is a bit of a manufacturing scale curve, like solar every doubling of production volume lead to (I’m guessing here) a 20% cost reduction. At current small volumes the scale effect is working against them. A lot of the work is probably done by hand, because purchasing robots is pretty pricey and something you’d do for a large production line only.

          • Bob_Wallace

            One site talks about fiberglass over balsa wood which is one way sailboat hulls are constructed. My guess is that is largely handwork at this point.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Optimising a design can certainly cost a lot of money and setting up a manufacturing line for mass production can be extremely expensive. Perhaps the New Zealanders were able to build a $335,000 electric bus because they’re pretty smart? Although they still do have a superstitious fear of robots. (Or maybe they fear robots because they’re smart?)

          • subspace

            The 13 units BYD just sold to Nottingham recently apparently went for 3.5 mio GBP (5.2 mio $). That would mean a selling price of 400k per Bus.

          • Ronald Brakels

            That price makes a lot more sense. And at that price it simply outcompetes new diesel buses. So provided that price is maintained and isn’t just some special introductory offer, conventional bus manufacturers are either going to have to change with the times or move into another line of work. (Or maybe just make parts for those who do make electric buses.)

            One thing I guess we should keep an eye out for is the lumping of other costs in with bus prices. For example, if a bus line invests in renewable energy to generate clean power for its buses, that’s great, but not part of the cost of the bus itself.

          • Ronald Brakels

            Looking it up, I see New Zealand has electric buses in the UAE and Canada. Not entirely sure if the manufacturing is still being done in NZ though. Their EcoSmart buses get 160 kilometers to a charge.

          • Hmm, interesting…

          • Jouni Valkonen

            In my city (Turku) typical city bus routes are about 20 km. Longer bus routes are problematic, because driver need to have 15 min coffee breaks after about 90 minutes of driving. Naturally driver will have those breaks in the end of lines.

        • Joe

          I don’t think anyone knows how much tesla batteries cost, the article I see floating around simple called up a few distributors of a generic
          18650A Battery not a Panasonic 18650A, which is like saying I can get a AA alkaline battery for .10 cents you can but not a Duracell ….

          • Bob_Wallace

            Last fall Navigant Research (highly regarded organization) reported that Tesla was paying $180/kWh to Panasonic for the cells it uses.

            http://reneweconomy.com.au/2014/battery-storage-costs-plunge-below100kwh-19365

          • Joe

            Do you have the original paper, in the article I’m not sure if the author is saying it or is it base on navigants research, also is the cost with battery pack or without.

          • Bob_Wallace

            I’ve read the paper. (Something along the lines of someone leaving it on their desk when they went to the bathroom. ;o)

            Navigant (Sam Jaffe) clearly states that Tesla is paying Panasonic $180/kWh. That’s for cells. Individual batteries that look a lot like flashlight batteries.

            http://cdn.teslarati.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Tesla-Battery-Cell-18650.jpg

            Tesla then takes those batteries/cells and puts them in their packs which connect the cells as well as control their temperature.

            http://insideevs.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Panasonic-Tesla-Cell-300×229.jpg

          • Jouni Valkonen

            Just Few days ago Tesla increased the capacity of base model S by 10 kWh to 70 kWh. In additionally there was dual motor, few hundred more horse powers, supercharging access and advanced sensors. The cost increase was only about 4000 to 5000 dollars. Therefore we can safely say, that 10 kWh batteries cannot have significantly more cost than 2000 dollars.

            Therefore I think that Bob’s unproven source for 180 dollars per kWh could be quite close.

        • Omega Centauri

          City managers are probably very conservative. “Nobody ever got fired purchasing a (cheaper) diesel bus.” Also with currently small build capacity (the article said 18month waiting list) there just aren’t enough e-busses to go around. My guess is the manufacturers want to scale slowly as that minimizes the sizable risk is a major recall was required.

        • I’m with you.

          Hope that is coming down the pipeline. (Bad analogy.)

          I assume few people realize that BEV buses are now competitive. The pilot programs are useful, but really, how many people know about them and the details found? I think leaders in a few cities need to first implement such bans, then others will slowly get word and do the same.

          However, transit agencies may discover sooner that they can save money by going electric, or at least break even while eliminating risk related to fuel price volatility.

          • I think it’s more a matter of “competitive today if manufactured in moderate volumes”.
            BYD’s lower prices probably come mainly from it producing 1000’s (?) of EV buses per year. ProTerra doesn’t have the same scale, so its buses will be much more expensive — BYD can “amortize” its overhead costs (finance, executives, sales, marketing, etc) over enough buses that the cost-per-bus is small. ProTerra’s costs-per-bus for overhead are probably a lot higher, since it doesn’t sell as many. And that’s before factoring in volume discounts from suppliers, more-optimal use of manufacturing staff and equipment, etc.
            As for the particulates, there’s an old (2004?) EPA study concluding each kg of PM2.5 emitted costs society about US $660 in otherwise-avoidable medical costs (asthmatic kids or elders being rushed to hospital, etc.) I can link to it if anyone’s interested. 🙂

          • I agree. BYD is lucky to have such a supportive government helping it get to a good scale. BYD has sold thousands of these electric buses to Chinese cities, and perhaps not even 100 beyond China. Cities around the world have used the buses in pilot programs that seemed to turn out very well, but I’m sure it’s the Chinese market that is really enabling BYD’s competitiveness.

      • ADW

        $850k is a huge number! You at talking the cost of 3 buses. That is a really hard sell for cash strapped transit systems. Maybe the early adopters will be private firms that carter to convention transportation? Or Beijing with a major pollution issue?

        Granted city buses have been known to go longer than 10 years but the MBTA in Boston has a fleet of 1,000+ buses and a goal of a 8 year life span. So this is at break-even if nothing goes wrong.

        Not sure who did the math at but: $850 – $300 = $550k delta. $40k per year fuel savings is a 13.75 year payback. Let’s call it a wash on maintenance to start given we will have battery pack failure/replacement cost which is unknown at this time.

        Do I want to see the electric bus happen, yes. I wonder if the return of the electric overheard wires and trolley are more cost effective? Boston still has some.

        • Bob_Wallace

          “Not sure who did the math”

          Timidly raising my hand. “Oops”.

          “The Federal Transit Administration FTA recently distributed $55 million in grants to 10 transit agencies as part of a program to deploy US-made electric transit buses. More than half of that money will be going to South Carolina-based Proterra, the Greenville News reported.

          Six transit agencies in five states will buy a total of 28 Proterra buses and seven charging stations – nearly $30 million in new orders, and a “tremendous validation for the company,” as Proterra CEO Ryan Popple put it. The program involved “intense competition for a lot of different technologies, but cities that specified that they wanted to deploy Proterra’s technology did very, very well,” he said.”

          http://chargedevs.com/newswire/30-million-in-federal-grants-to-pay-for-proterra-electric-buses/

          I suspect we’re looking at very expensive, pretty much hand built prototype buses, not what the cost would be if they go into financing.

          And Proterra has a 180 version for the longer routes.

          http://cleantechnica.com/2015/03/07/proterra-unveils-180-mile-electric-bus/

      • Omega Centauri

        With any sort of a discount rate, you probably won’t break even on fuel cost alone. Presumably there is less maintenance as well. Of course quietness and emissions I would hope would put things over the top.

        • Bob_Wallace

          It probably makes no sense to try to figure out the economics. These are pretty much handmade one of a kind buses at this point.

          There’s no doubt that running on electricity would be a lot cheaper than running on diesel. And these buses should cost no more to manufacture than diesel buses, if not less, once things scale up.

          • No way

            I got some interesting information from a recent local purchase of 2 BYD buses where the head of the city’s transport department said in an interview “To buy an electric bus is somewhat more expensive than to buy a traditional diesel or petrol bus. Or a biogas bus for that matter….”

            Reporter: “When you say somewhat more expensive, what does that mean”

            “It’s more expensive when you first buy it.The purchase price was almost 50% more expensive…”

            I don’t expect a tiny company like proterra to get to those levels but it shows how easily the big e-bus companies and traditional bus companies that are getting into e-buses can turn everything upside down everywhere in a very near future.

            We’ve got low electricity prices so 50% on top of the regular purchase price is easily recovered by the lower running costs.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Assuming a new diesel bus costs $300k that would make the electric bus $150 more. With a $40k to $50k annual fuel savings it’s not a lot of years to breakeven.

            Some company is likely to grow large and sell lots of electric buses. Proterra has a jump start on a lot of the competition. The real question is whether the big boys get into the game soon and take over or whether they wait too long and fail.

          • No way

            Even slightly less here. A BYD-like city bus running on diesel is about $250k here. So maybe something like $360-370k for the BYD bus (which seems to be about right since Ebusco sold their 250 km range electric bus for 400k here 2 years ago).
            The average for a intracity bus here is 60 000 km per year. With the diesel price and electricity price that would be a saving of about $24k per year in fuel.
            With a 5% interest rate that buy would break even in just over 5 years.
            The normal use of such buss here is minimum 8 years and generally max 12 years (many companies here has that as a hard upper limit).

        • Ronald Brakels

          Looks like they can be got for about $400,000 as subspace mentioned above. At that price they knock diesel buses into a cocked, bus sized hat that electric buses are knocking diesel buses into for some reason.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Right. If they can sell electric buses for $400k that’s about a one year payback over diesel. Plus all the non-economic benefits.

            Electrics will take over fastest where the vehicle is operated the most.

          • Will E

            Germany is working on a replacement of 11,000 buses.
            diesel to electric. It was a news item on tv.
            Cities work together. no pollution and Wind Power storage.
            Basically EV construction is cheaper than ICE construction, prices will go down.

          • Whoa. If you can find a link on that story, would love to have it.

          • Will E

            I try to find a link to that tv program.
            take some time and send it to you.

          • Philip W

            Yes, please provide a link, I live in Germany and I have not heard that yet.

      • Radical Ignorant

        Just wondering. We are educated about EVs. But most people are not. They believe EVs are something of the future and not to be looked at in present needs. So many people doesn’t even run the numbers. Never underestimate power of ignorance.

        • Fully agree.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Make a point of sharing your knowledge from time to time. Especially if you drive an EV.

          The way technology spreads is often by seeing someone you know making the switch.

          We get 200 mile EVs (Mod3 and Bolt) and awareness will zoom. Lots of people are likely to snatch them up as fast as they come off the assembly lines. Families will be standing around new EVs talking about them when Cousin Zach shows up at Grandma’s for Thanksgiving driving his new Tesla.

      • Matt

        Using your numbers Bob, and assuming you are a city with AAA or AA bond rating. Then 10 year bonds about 2%. So if you put up the $300k you would for a D bus and sell $500k bonds. Doing simple interest each year but that is close. You end up with 10 payments of ~$55,70. Which if I add lifetime saving on maintenance ($135k) to gas savings ($400k-$450k) then it is right in the middle (53.5-58.5) of you saving and after ten years you run at a big savings. So first ten years is a little cheaper and afterward a lot. Not counting noise, pollution, health, climate benefits. Of course if the electric price has dropped then …

        • Bob_Wallace

          The important point is (IMHO) battery prices are going to continue to fall and it’s going to be less expensive to purchase an electric bus than to purchase a diesel bus.

          That might not happen this year or in 2016 but it’s likely to be true by 2020. Multiple battery manufacturers should be pumping out the inexpensive batteries five years from now. The rush is on.

          There might be a modest premium for electric buses if there’s a problem getting the buses lighter. But even that will go away as battery capacity increases.

      • Tony Dominski

        Bob,
        Thanks so much!!
        I am working with the New Haven Climate Coalition, and Energy Task Force. Diesel emissions are really bad for health and climate.
        Your insight will help guide our policy.
        Enjoy, Tony

      • sickdog

        the buses are only warranted for 12 years. No city will run it past that . given my city only uses cng right now- if replaced the fuel cost savings is about 240,000 altogether. Since the article does not discuss the purchasing contract agreement costs for authorized maintenance while the bus is under warranty–we have no idea what annual costs are. So we are talking about at least $250K increase in cost per bus.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Twelve years is the expected life for all city buses, so this is a “lifetime” warranty.

          Whether running a CNG bus is cheaper, perhaps. But battery prices are falling rapidly. Keep tuned in….

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