South Carolina Facility is Manufacturing ‘the Bus of Tomorrow’
GREENVILLE, SC – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today toured the floor of the Proterra, Inc. manufacturing facility in Greenville, South Carolina, where over 120 workers were recently hired to assemble a new generation of battery-powered, fast-charging transit buses that will soon deliver a clean, quiet ride to cities and towns across America. Secretary LaHood’s visit follows President Obama’s State of the Union Address, in which he stressed the importance of targeted investments to foster the American ingenuity, innovation, and the entrepreneurial spirit that will make our nation more competitive globally and strengthen our economy here at home. Federal Transit Administrator Peter Rogoff and Proterra, Inc. CEO Jeff Granato joined Secretary LaHood for the facility tour.
“President Obama has called for a new era of American innovation and competition, and that’s exactly what is on display at Proterra’s new battery-powered bus manufacturing facility,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Thanks to smart government investments and private sector creativity, the buses of the future are being conceived and built by skilled American workers and engineers.”
Proterra, Inc. began as a small research and development company in Golden, Colorado in 2004, and today, it stands on the cutting edge of advanced transportation fuel technology development. With the help of researchers at the nonprofit Center for Transportation and Environment and a $6.5 million research grant provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration, Proterra is leading the way in manufacturing greener, cleaner transit and has become one of Greenville’s top employers, on track to hire an additional 250 workers this year alone.
“We are honored to be recognized by the USDOT and Secretary LaHood for our efforts to enable a future less dependent on fossil fuels, promote US innovation, and reinforce a new wave of domestic green-energy jobs,” said Jeff Granato, President and CEO of Proterra. “All of us at Proterra are invigorated by the real opportunity we see to influence the global transit industry.”
“We’re pleased that our targeted investments are now yielding jobs for tomorrow,” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “Through our federal partnership with private-sector innovators like Proterra, we’ve provided the seed money that will ensure the advanced technologies of the future will be ‘Made in America.’ At the same time, we’re building an environmentally sustainable future for our citizens.”
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
Altogether, over the last five years, Congress and the Federal Transit Administration, with a boost from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, have provided roughly $93 million to fund cutting-edge research, development, and testing of fuel cells and other alternative energy sources to power clean, fuel-efficient transit vehicles. Thanks to Proterra’s growth, key suppliers in other states are also benefiting from these investments in cutting-edge technology. For instance, Proterra purchases propulsion systems manufactured by UQM in Frederick, Colorado; lithium batteries produced at Altairnano in Reno, Nevada; and bus charging station components built at Aerovironment in Monrovia, California.
Proterra expects to produce about 80 electric buses this year, plus charging stations, and is fielding inquiries about its products from around the world. The first new electric buses are already on the street in southern California, helping the state reduce emissions and achieve its clean-air goals.
Next year, Proterra plans to move its operations into a new larger assembly plant at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research nearby, where the company will collaborate with the faculty to research new technologies and train the next generation of transportation scientists and engineers.