The electric vehicle for the rest of us

Perhaps a Tesla S is not in your budget, but you will nevertheless be able to take to the roads in an electric vehicle. Proterra Inc. recently announced the sale of two 40-foot battery-electric transit vehicles and a fast charge system to King County Metro in Seattle, WA. Following a one-year trial period, the agency has the option to purchase up to 200 more buses and additional fast charge systems.

The transit system's fleet already includes trolley-electric and diesel-hybrid vehicles, and the new all-electric buses, set for delivery in the first half of 2015, could help the agency move toward an all-electric and hybrid-electric fleet.

“In addition to having a positive impact on the Seattle area, King County Metro’s willingness to adopt EV buses as a means to reduce emissions and fuel costs will help other agencies understand and perfect the deployment of EV transit vehicles,” said Ryan Popple, CEO of Proterra, in a press release.

Proterra said its EV buses have logged nearly 500,000 road miles and have been deployed in Pomona, WA; San Antonio, TX; Worcester, MA; Tallahassee, FL; Seneca, NY; Nashville, TN; Reno, NV; and Louisville, KY.

Daniel Gross, writing in Slate, is impressed. He notes, “Forget about Tesla and its futuristic new Gigafactory. When it comes to using electricity for transportation, the real action may lie in the polar opposite of the fancy sports car.” He acknowledges that municipal buses “…may be déclassé, unloved, slow, lumbering behemoths. But they’re the workhorses of America’s transit systems.”

Gross quotes Popple (a former Tesla executive) as saying, “Our technology could literally remove every single dirty diesel bus from cities.” The diesel bus, Popple contends, “…is the most atrociously inefficient vehicle in the planet.”

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