AUSTRALIA’S BUSTECH AND USA’S PROTERRA IN LANDMARK E-BUS DEAL

By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Bustech/Precision + Proterra


BREAKING: North American electric bus innovator Proterra and Australian bus builder Bustech are to collaborate on making e-buses for the local market, the companies announced recently.

AUSTRALIA’S BUSTECH AND USA’S PROTERRA IN LANDMARK E-BUS DEAL
The Proterra battery system for the ZDi will feature 450kWh capacity, which will enable an estimated 325km of driving range on a single charge, the company claims.

As the first time ever Proterra product is to be used outside its own region, the selection of Proterra Powered battery technology for Bustech’s new ZDi 12.5-metre all-electric transit bus represents its official entry into the Australian bus market, it states.

"Everybody within our organisation is extremely excited to be in a partnership with Proterra," said Bustech CEO and ex-ZF executive Thinus Steyn.

"Since I joined Bustech as CEO in January, 2020, we have focused on creating a business and engineering environment which is ready for the adoption of the technology advancements that will drive our industry forward.

"We have up-skilled the group over the last six months with the capacity and capability to bring the ZDi Proterra Powered electric vehicle to market in early 2021 and have a significant number of orders in the pipeline, which we have been working on in advance of the announcement of our partnership," Steyn said.

Under the partnership, Bustech will incorporate Proterra’s battery technology into the single-deck ZDi’s integrated chassis systems, Bustech’s parent entity Australia Bus Corporation (ABC) confirms.

The Proterra battery system for the ZDi will feature 450kWh capacity, which will enable an estimated 325km of driving range on a single charge, the company claims. The vehicle can fully charge in about two hours, it adds.

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DOUBLE-DECK E-BUSES?

"Proterra is excited to take our battery technology and expertise to the Australian transit market with Bustech," said Jack Allen, Proterra CEO and chairman.

"Our best-in-class battery technology platform has been proven in more than 13 million service miles driven by our fleet of battery electric transit buses in the United States and Canada. Now, we look forward to delivering the benefits of Proterra Powered clean, quiet electric vehicles to even more people around the world," Allen said.

Group managing director at Bustech and Precision Buses, Christian Reynolds, stated: "This relationship reflects the intended transformation within the current market. Being able to bring a US technology company like Proterra to Australia is a fantastic opportunity to assist in the rapid growth expectations and maturing of BEVs in Australia."

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"Our ethos is to collaborate with partners who are leaders in their field and Proterra fits that mould.

"Together with Proterra, we have aspirations to quickly scale in the market with our integrated body and chassis and Proterra’s battery solution.

"We see this solution scaling across all variants of vehicle within our range, including articulated and double-decker buses.

"This is very much a collaboration and we look forward to maturing the relationship into the future," Reynolds explained.

As for output predictions, it should be noted Bustech/Precision produced 280 vehicles in the 19/20 financial year and they are targeting 10-15 per cent growth in the 20/21 financial year, sources confirm to www.busnews.com.au

Currently, the joint entity has 270 employees across its national operations.

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THE BATTERIES

According to Proterra, its battery packs incorporate advanced features such as liquid cooling with an active thermal management system that will ensure optimal charging and maximise battery life by maintaining a constant battery temperature in Australia’s demanding climate.

The technical partnership will use Proterra’s battery technology while ensuring overall vehicle manufacturing and assembly is consistent with local supply chains on shore in Australia, they state.

Operating as a core technology partner, Proterra will provide training and development support to strengthen Bustech’s in-country service network and experience with the battery product, ABC confirms.

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Proterra batteries are manufactured with safety mechanisms built directly into the battery architecture and have undergone extensive testing to meet the exacting safety standards, the company says.

Proterra battery systems incorporate Proterra’s patented technology, monitoring sensors throughout the battery pack, and passive propagation resistance, which isolates individual battery cells in the rare case of a thermal event to prevent wider spread, it explains.

"We have been really impressed with the battery technology from Proterra, with its energy density and inbuilt control system. This will translate into a vehicle with unparalleled performance and safety," said Gregg Dinning, Bustech’s chief technical officer, who is an ex-McLaren Technologies / Ross Thompson industry professional for aftermarket builds.

"Our aim is to introduce product which is deployable into operating networks without having to remodel the full fleet or depot service model.

"By delivering an estimated 325km range per drive cycle we can support operators through adoption and roll-out of full electric vehicles, based on the battery energy levels, whilst acknowledging and dealing with the specific climatic conditions we face in Australia," Dinning added.

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LOCAL JOBS

Established in 1995, Bustech developed the first electric bus in Australia and is recognised as a leader in innovation and electric vehicle product development in the Australasian market, it states.

In 2019, Bustech joined with the Australian Bus Corporation (ABC) to form the largest bus manufacturer in Australia.

Bustech has undertaken significant market analysis to engage and review critical technical partnerships which introduce best-in-class technology to the Australasian market, while also offering unparalleled aftermarket support, the company says.

The partnership with Proterra will deliver a vehicle designed for maximum range and support Bustech’s commitment to creating local jobs and engaging the local supply chain, it adds.

Australia continues to be a global leader in adopting electric transit vehicles as more states and municipalities commit to bold transportation electrification targets, it highlights.

In 2019, the NSW State Government announced plans to transition its fleet of approximately 8,000 transit buses to all-electric.

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OEM SUPPLY

Proterra Powered leverages Proterra’s electric vehicle technology and expertise to help commercial vehicle manufacturers electrify their vehicles, it says.

As an OEM that uses its own battery technology to power its fleet of heavy-duty electric transit buses, Proterra brings more than a decade of experience manufacturing, testing and delivering EVs, it states.

To date, Proterra Powered has helped world-class OEMs like Thomas Built Bus, Van Hool, FCCC, and Optimal-EV introduce 100 per cent battery-electric vehicles that are powered by Proterra electric vehicle technology, it confirms.

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ABOUT BUSTECH

Bustech is Australia's largest privately owned bus manufacturer, is 100 per cent Australian owned and operated, and is based in Burleigh Heads on Queensland's Gold Coast, it says.

The company designs, engineers and manufactures chassis and bodies for mass passenger vehicles.

Bustech has established facilities in Queensland and South Australia, with a production capacity of 400 buses per annum and also has joint-venture arrangements in Tasmania, supplementing the overall capacity for the group by 100 per annum, respectively, it states. The company confirms 95 per cent of its supply chain is procured in Australia.

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ABOUT PROTERRA

Proterra is a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications, it explains.

The company provides a suite of products, services and financing options for a seamless transition to clean, quiet, battery-electric fleets, it points out.

Designed for durability, safety and energy efficiency - and validated by rigorous U.S. independent testing - Proterra products are proudly designed, engineered and manufactured in America, with offices in Silicon Valley, South Carolina, and Los Angeles, it states.

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