Proterra Inc., a maker of zero-emission commercial transit solutions, today announced an investment of $30 million to accelerate the commercialization of its world-leading, fast-charge battery electric transit buses and automated bus charging system. The investment is being led by Silicon Valley venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB), and also includes GM Ventures, Mitsui & Co., Ltd., Vision Ridge Partners and 88 Green Ventures, LLC.
"Our goal at Proterra is to fundamentally transform urban transit," said Jeff Granato, president of Proterra, "The tremendous resources of Kleiner Perkins, leveraged with GM's automotive expertise and the financial and technical strength of Mitsui, Vision Ridge and 88 Green Ventures gives us an enviable platform to compete and win in the electric transit bus market."
Proterra's 35 foot (10 meter) EcoRide BE35 bus, in daily service at Foothill Transit in Pomona, Calif. since last September, will be rolling out to VIA Transit in San Antonio and Tallahassee StarMetro later this year. The whisper-quiet, emissions-free bus of tomorrow is completely recharged in under 10 minutes with Proterra's FastFill charging station resulting in a 1 for 1 replacement of diesel buses in service on routes today. Proterra's lightweight, composite-body bus is a major advance in the transit industry, meeting the stated 2030 goals set by the Federal Transit Agency (FTA) for advanced technology buses nearly 20 years ahead of schedule. Providing significant operating cost savings for its customers, the EcoRide is averaging close to 24 miles per gallon (diesel equivalent) in service, a more than 600 percent improvement over a typical diesel bus, which averages under 4 miles per gallon, resulting in hundreds of thousands of dollars in fuel cost savings.
"Electrification of public transportation has tremendous benefits to governments, municipalities and citizens by reducing the operating cost of transit, while also eliminating local air pollution and reducing C02 per passenger mile in the industry," said Al Gore, former U.S. Vice President and partner with Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers.
This investment enables Proterra to complete critical federal validation testing of its bus, roll out additional pilot fleets and complete initiatives to significantly reduce costs and increase volume production at its Greenville, South Carolina manufacturing plant, which will have a capacity to produce 400 buses annually. The bus has more than 80 percent U.S. content from 33 states, and will create approximately 2,400 jobs nationwide by 2015 across Proterra and its supplier network.
Proterra has also strengthened its board by electing a manufacturing industry veteran, David Lehmann, as its new chairman. Mr. Lehmann is a seasoned multinational business executive. He has conducted business in 28 countries for firms such as General Electric Co., Solar Turbines Inc., a subsidiary of Caterpillar." Michael Linse, a partner at KPCB, has also joined the board.