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Proterra announces new electric bus innovations

High altitude! Park City shows support for new Proterra additions to bus fleet. Source: Deseret News

US Electric bus manufacturer, Proterra, has launched a new diagnostic tool which its claims will increase the efficiency and daily operation of its buses. The company also announced a special package designed to allow its vehicles to function better in cold weather.

A new digital support platform for electric buses has been announced by manufacturer Proterra. The Proterra Diagnostic Tool is, according to the company, the only diagnostic platform that will allow technicians to access all vehicle systems in one place, meaning technicians do not have to remove bus panels, or take vehicles out of service, in order to fix issues.

The technology operates as a ‘virtual mechanic’ using one, simple interface, enabling users to checking charge levels, find and resolve faults, and do diagnostic tests. The platform can be connected to through Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB. This suggests that the platform will be set up in such a way that it can be accessed by anyone with a mobile device and appropriate application.

Proterra has also put together a Cold Weather Package (CWP), in a design aimed at combatting the lack of heat – normally sourced from the combustion engine – that is not present in an EV.

Heating can cause real problems for battery powered vehicles. Power must be drawn from the cell to heat the vehicle’s interior and, where a vehicle is used for public transport, it is particularly important that it is safe and comfortable. Again, cold batteries are less efficient in both receiving charge and outputting power, so range is reduced.

The Proterra package will therefore outfit buses used in colder climates with a front access door and a ramp diffuser that will remove ice and minimise slipping. Similarly, heated mirrors will be installed, to ensure better visibility, and a heated charge blade and scoop on the roof of the bus will be available to maintain consistent charging. For extreme weather areas, the same hardware will be in used, alongside auxiliary heat provision for passengers’ comfort, and a heated rear exit floor to prevent the build up of ice.

It is evident that this news is the first stage of Proterra’s plan to “establish… safer mobility solutions that will help build public confidence in the safety of eventual autonomous mass transit.” Earlier this month, ElecTrans reported that the bus manufacturer will be working with the University of Nevada, alongside regional transport authorities and economic development programs, to develop autonomous buses.

As the northern hemisphere moves into summer, it may be some time before the package is put to the test. It therefore remains to be seen as to how beneficial these systems will be with regards to range and battery efficiency.


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