Proterra is kicking things up a notch with the announcement that it has closed a massive $155 million financing round, led by Daimler, Tao Capital Partners, and G2VP.
The new injection of cash shows not only that Proterra is looking to scale up its operations in conjunction with the boom in electrified bus sales, but that Daimler wants in on the action and sees Proterra as leading the charge. As the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles, Daimler continues to increasingly wade into electric vehicles but signs in recent months indicate that the automotive giant is taking electric vehicles more seriously.
With its investment in Proterra, Daimler is specifically looking to leverage Proterra’s tech in its Thomas Built Bus line, which is falling behind other school bus manufacturers like Lion, Blue Bird, and Motiv Power. School districts and parents are increasingly aware of just how significant the emissions from traditional diesel school buses are for children and as a result, are pushing for electrified alternatives.
“We are excited to collaborate with Daimler, and we appreciate their investment and support,” said Ryan Popple, Proterra CEO. “Daimler is a global leader in vehicles that serve almost every category and market. Over the past year, we’ve gained a great deal of respect for the engineering prowess, operational expertise, and environmental stewardship of the Daimler team. We also appreciate the continued support of our existing investors who share our vision of clean, quiet transportation for all.”
Innovation happens in large companies through internal research and development or via external acquisitions, which calls into question the internal capability at Daimler to electrify its commercial vehicles. Partnering to electrify a single school bus line is exciting, but only scratches the surface of the possibilities in the broader landscape of Daimler’s commercial offerings. Work done on Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses could open the proverbial floodgates of vehicle electrification without the need for Daimler to put up the capital to fund the innovation internally.
Martin Daum, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG with responsibility for Daimler Trucks & Buses shared that, “We started working on electric trucks and buses at a very early stage, and we aim to set the standards here in each relevant segment. We expect the cooperation with Proterra to deliver additional impetus for the development of heavy-duty commercial vehicles with electric drive.” The door has been cracked open. The only question now is how long will it take Daimler to put the spark into its other commercial vehicles beyond school buses.
On Proterra’s side of the equation, the technology partnership with Daimler opens the door into what could be a lucrative new market in school buses that represent a natural extension of its transit bus solutions. It stands to benefit from Daimler’s mastery of traditional commercial vehicle manufacturing, which it can apply as it works to scale up its manufacturing and supply chain operations with the new investment funds.
The announcement was livestreamed on Daimler’s site and could mark the opening of a new chapter at Daimler a the company continues to push into the electrification of the powertrains in its commercial vehicle offerings.
Don't want to miss a cleantech story? Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.