Increasing Fuel Efficiency, Reducing Costs and Enhancing Sustainability with Proterra Battery-Electric Buses

Nov. 12, 2013
With today’s focus on the Three Ps: People, Planet and Profits, companies and transit agencies alike are actively seeking ways to be more sustainable, while keeping a close eye on their bottom lines.

With today’s focus on the Three Ps: People, Planet and Profits, companies and transit agencies alike are actively seeking ways to be more sustainable, while keeping a close eye on their bottom lines.  Forward-thinking organizations across the country are beginning to recognize the unique and profound value proposition presented by clean, fuel-efficient battery-electric buses.

Proterra Inc. has seen demand for its buses grow significantly over the past several months, with many leading companies, government agencies and transit agencies requesting demonstrations to test Proterra’s technology, performance and fuel-efficiency for themselves. Businesses with significant transportation and energy consumption needs, such as large resorts, have been most interested in conducting demos.

Putting Buses to the Test

As part of its continued efforts to reduce costs and focus on cutting-edge technologies, a large southern U.S.-based resort recently requested a demo of Proterra’s BE-35 battery electric buses.  The resort attracts thousands of visitors each day who must be transported through and between various properties and parking areas. Its transportation programs are a critical component of overall operations and have a significant impact on both budget and on creating the top-notch experience customers expect.

Proterra provided one BE35 battery-electric bus which was used on a variety of the resort’s regular bus routes for a period of 23 straight days in the height of summer-the resort’s busiest season.

The bus ran an average of 13.5 hours and covered an average distance of 110 miles per day with heavy traffic loads and high heat, which required an 84.5 percent average auxiliary load for air conditioning.


Over the three weeks of testing, the fuel cost per mile of operating the Proterra bus, was roughly 1/5 that of a diesel bus, saving the resort more than $2,000 in fuel costs alone over the 23-day demo.  These savings can be compounded when routine maintenance costs, such as oil and brake changes that are not necessary in a battery electric bus are factored into the equation.

The bus reported no issues over the course of the test and passed several rigorous inspections by the resort’s director of transportation engineering services and his technicians.

One of the biggest surprises of the demo was the reaction of the resort’s drivers, who reported that they thoroughly enjoyed driving the bus and preferred its quiet, smooth and clean operation to that of the diesel buses. Drivers also indicated that they had received many positive comments from riders.

During its Proterra bus demo, the resort was able to demonstrate substantial costs savings, a significantly reduced carbon footprint and an enhanced rider and driver experience, all with no major service issues.  

Proven Time and Again

While these results are powerful, they are not unusual.  Most organizations who have tested Proterra buses have achieved similar results. In fact, one Proterra customer has reported a savings of nearly 4,500 gallons over nearly 17,000 accumulated miles in the past five months alone. Each of these transit agencies has documented significant fuel savings and much more predictable operating expenses, so much that cities can consider using the bus as a hedge against future fuel price escalations and paying for the bus with the fuel savings itself.

“We work with our current customers to gather and analyze data on total cost of ownership, maintenance cost and fuel economy and ultimately savings that result in reduced operating cost version conventional buses, and thus far, the results have been overwhelmingly positive,” said Heidi McNary, vice president of sales and marketing, Proterra Inc.  “We recognize that there are an increasing number of bus alternatives in the market, but our repeat business tells us that those who really understand EV transit and have seen its operating cost reduction benefits choose Proterra.”

JoAnne Abed is director of public relations for Proterra.