GM Ventures LLC, a subsidiary GM created to invest in auto-related start-up companies, will invest $6 million in a Colorado-based electric bus company – the Proterra Inc.
GM Ventures is part of an investment group, led by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that will invest a total of $30 million in the electric bus manufacturer.
Proterra’s EcoRide BE-35 electric bus is averaging up to 24 mpg (diesel equivalent) in service, a more than 600-percent improvement over a typical diesel bus. Using technology developed by Proterra, the lightweight, composite-body bus recharges in about 10 minutes.
Three EcoRide BE-35 electric buses are currently in a test fleet near Pomona, Calif., with additional buses to be added, and new buses and charging stations are also headed to San Antonio and Tallahassee, Fla., later this year. This investment allows Proterra to complete 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, S.C. manufacturing plant, which will have the capacity to produce 400 buses annually.
With up to a 40-mile range for the under 10-minute fast charge application, the EcoRide BE-35 can easily replace 80 percent of diesel buses in typical transit and shuttle use without altering schedules or passenger service. The EcoRide can also be configured for longer ranges while charging at a central location.
Proterra’s TerraVolt energy storage system consists of 54-72 kWh lithium titanate battery packs that recharge in 10 minutes using the company’s roof-mounted Fast Fill recharging system.
Proterra will be the fourth company, beside Envia Systems, Bright Automotive and battery startup Sakti3, funded by General Motors Ventures.
GM set up General Motors Ventures LLC in June-2010 with $100 million to invest in companies that are developing transportation technology.