Proterra electric bus

Electric bus sets world record for range on a single charge

Image credit: Proterra

A heavy-duty Proterra electric bus has set a new world record for the longest distance driven by an electric vehicle (EV) on a single charge, after covering more than 1100 miles. This feat was made possible by its impressive 660kWh battery.

Proterra, which is largely led and staffed by former Tesla employees, has managed to approximately double its maximum range each year, driving 258 miles (415km) on a single charge in 2015 and 603 miles (970km) on a single charge in 2016.

In a new record, a 40-foot (12.2m) Catalyst E2 Max covered 1101 miles (1772km) at the Navistar Proving Grounds in Indiana. Navistar has confirmed the achievement. The previous world record was broken by a small, single-seat car called ‘Schluckspecht’ (boozer), which travelled 1014 miles (1632km) on a single charge on the Bosch test track in Boxberg, Germany.

“For our heavy-duty electric bus to break the previous world record […] which was set by a light-duty passenger EV 46 times lighter than the Catalyst E2 Max is a major feat,” said Proterra CCO Matt Horton.

“This record achievement is a testament to Proterra’s purpose-built electric bus design, energy-dense batteries and efficient drivetrain”

The powerful 660kWh battery which powered the Catalyst E2 max has approximately nine times the capacity of the lithium-ion battery used in the Tesla Model S.

While no passenger bus driver would be required to drive such a distance in one shift, the feat has demonstrated the ability of heavy-duty EVs to operate throughout the day before needing to return to the charging station. Alongside its vehicles, Proterra is also developing high-speed charging systems for electric buses which could, eventually, according to CEO Ryan Popple, recharge a bus “faster than you can stick a hose in the side of a diesel bus and fill it with fuel”; although the 660kWh battery powering the Catalyst E2 Max would take approximately an hour to recharge.

As local authorities seek to improve air quality amid warnings of the devastating public health impacts of air pollution, Proterra’s feat could encourage further conversation about the possibility of adopting EVs for public transport, particularly as the price of lithium-ion batteries continues to fall. According to Proterra, the Catalyst E2 Max has a lower operational cost per mile than conventional fossil fuel-powered buses, which could make it the model of choice in the transit market.

The decision of the UK and French governments to phase out the sale of all conventional diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 will add to pressure on established and young automakers to provide a greater range of electric and hybrid vehicles at affordable prices. 

In August, heavy-duty EVs made headlines when diesel and petrol engine manufacturer Cummins unveiled the world’s first electric semi truck, Aeos, which has a range of 100 miles (160km). The much-anticipated launch of Tesla’s electric semi truck, Electrek, is due to be revealed in October.

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