Spotlight Electric Vehicle Week 4

Kaitlin Reed Vehicle Models

Changing lanes a little bit with this week’s electric vehicle. Instead of a car, it’s an electric bus! The Proterra Catalyst is a zero-emission, all-electric bus with an on-route fast charging system, allowing it to run continuously 24/7 without lengthy charging times. Beginning as a California startup, this vehicle can now be seen operating in over 30 different states.


The Proterra Catalyst E2 has the highest range in its vehicle class, with up to 426 nominal miles on a single charge. The company makes note to describe its vehicles using the nominal range, which is a vehicle’s maximum range under standardized Federal Transit Administration’s Altoona test track conditions. The Actual range can be affected by everything from usable energy in each battery pack, average speed and number of stops, to ambient temperature, topography, passenger load, age of batteries and vehicle weight.

Not all of the vehicles have the same range either. Since the vehicle is used in public transit, Proterra preforms a sophisticated route analysis for the intended purpose before matching the on-board energy storage to the route distance requirements, total daily mileage and layover options. For this reason, all buses have different ranges to meet the specific needs. Fortunately, the Catalyst platform is capable of serving the full daily mileage needs of nearly every transit route around the country in just a single charge.

To get an idea of the potential of this bus, the Catalyst E2 Max holds the world record for longest trip in an electric vehicle, reaching 1,102 miles on a single charge! While this model is not in use right now, it gives a preview on future implications and possibilities for this long range vehicle.


Fuel Efficiency

It is easy to see the benefits of the Proterra bus in terms of fuel efficiency.  This vehicle can get 28.1 mile per gallon equivalent (MPGe). If you are interested in the comparison, a diesel bus gets 3.9 MPG, a hybrid gets 5.0 MPG, and CNG gets 3.2 MPG. This can equate to savings of more than 40 cents per mile!



The carbon composite formulation of the Catalyst minimizes repairs and maintenance, and maximizes body life. Steel-body buses will experience significant fatigue and corrosion throughout their average 12-year lifespan. However, the advanced carbon composite body of the Catalyst resists rust and can stay in continuous service for years longer, with an expected lifespan of up to 18 years. Furthermore, Catalyst has 30 percent fewer parts than traditional buses. And the vehicle’s  maintenance components are easy to get to, cutting down on time needed to service them.


Minimal Noise

Along with zero-emissions and outstanding fuel economy, the Proterra Catalyst is exceptionally quiet.  At 57 dB, which is below a normal conversation level, the communities and neighborhoods that the buses serve remain undisturbed.

This fully electric, heavy-duty vehicle has, and will continue to help support the electric revolution.  As communities and transportation demand grow, the Proterra Catalyst has the ability to provide full time transportation services without any tailpipe emissions that negatively affect our health.

If you are in the Tallahassee area, keep your eye out for the Catalyst bus on the StarMetro line around Florida State University. Unfortunately, this is the only operating Proterra bus in Florida, but hopefully more cities will start introducing the electric vehicles to their transportation systems soon. (The chances of this will be even higher if the Department of Environmental Protection decides to use some of the Volkswagen settlement budget to fund electric buses.)

Find out more information about Proterra and their products on their web page here.