Electric bus maker Proterra announced the University of Georgia has ordered 20 of its Catalyst E2 buses. Upon deployment, the university will have one of the largest electric bus fleets in the U.S.

The 40-foot Catalyst E2 buses will displace more than 2.5 million gallons of diesel over the vehicles’ 12-year lifespan and eliminate over 4.5 million pounds of carbon emissions annually, Proterra says.

University of Georgia buses have an average daily ridership of about 40,000, offering free rides for students, faculty and visitors around Athens, Ga. The university received a $10 million grant to evaluate and test electric buses — the state of Georgia underwent a “similar testing and review process,” selecting Proterra as a statewide e-bus vendor. The university procured the buses under a statewide contract.

Proterra’s Catalyst E2 buses feature the manufacturer’s DuoPower drivetrain, which it introduced in 2017 and later put to the test on some of Utah’s steepest roads. The drivetrain features two electric motors which deliver 510 horsepower and can propel the bus up a 26 percent grade.

The University of Georgia estimates energy costs for operating the South Carolina-built buses will equal less than $10/day per bus, while energy costs for a similar diesel bus total $90/day per bus. Proterra’s buses are expected to arrive on campus during the 2019-20 academic year.

US E-Bus

Universities have been leaders in the U.S. when it comes to electric bus adoption. In February, Proterra also announced it was bringing 22 Catalyst FC buses to Florida State University, making FSU’s fleet all-electric. Florida State became one of the first U.S. universities with plans to decommission its entire fleet of fossil-fuel powered buses.

Proterra also recently announced that it completed testing of a 35-foot Catalyst E2 bus with 440 kWh of onboard storage. The company’s E2 Max bus traveled 1,100 miles on a single charge in 2017.

Electrek’s Take

Electric buses have had a greater effect than electric cars thus far when it comes to displacing worldwide oil demand. They’re obviously much larger than cars and run for much of the day.

More aging American bus fleets will be replaced by all-electric buses in the coming years, and it’s certainly becoming a trend on college campuses. But calling a 20-bus fleet “one of the largest” electric bus fleets in the country shows how far the U.S. has to go in terms of large-scale adoption. China has an estimated 99 percent of the world’s electric buses, and the city of Shenzhen completely electrified its fleet of more than 16,000 buses in 2017.

Major American cities such as New York and Los Angeles have announced plans to make their bus fleets all-electric, but it won’t happen for many years.


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