GM Part of Investment Group Backing Electric-Bus Maker

June 14, 2011
Automaker's venture-capital arm will invest $6 million in Proterra Inc.

General Motors said its venture-capital arm will invest $6 million in a company that manufacturers zero-emission commercial transit buses.

General Motors Ventures LLC is part of an investment group led by venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that will invest a total of $30 million in Proterra Inc.

GM noted that Proterra's EcoRide BE-35 battery-electric bus is averaging up to 24 miles per gallon (diesel equivalent) in service, a more than 600% improvement over a typical diesel bus. Using technology developed by Proterra, the composite-body bus recharges in about 10 minutes.

GM's venture-capital arm will invest $6 million in Proterra Inc., a manufacturer of battery-electric buses. Pictured here is Proterra's EcoRide BE-35. "This equity investment further demonstrates GM's commitment to electric propulsion and supports our commitment to identify and invest in technology solutions that help advance the global transportation industry," said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. "While this investment will help Proterra commercialize its electric bus and fast-charging technology, it also helps to address the future challenges of urban mobility." Founded in 2004, Proterra is manufacturing buses in a temporary plant in Greenville, S.C., near the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research. Three EcoRide BE-35 buses are in a test fleet near Pomona, Calif., with additional buses to be added, and new buses and charging stations are headed to San Antonio and Tallahassee, Fla., later this year. The investment allows Proterra to complete federal validation testing of its bus, roll out additional pilot fleets and complete initiatives to significantly reduce costs and increase volume production at its Greenville, GM said in a news release. The Greenville plant will have the capacity to produce 400 buses annually, GM noted. "With the support of GM's automotive expertise and technology leadership, we can achieve a better, cleaner future for public transportation," said Jeff Granato, president of Proterra. "We are proud to have General Motors on board."
About the Author

Josh Cable | Former Senior Editor

Former Senior Editor Josh Cable covered innovation issues -- including trends and best practices in R&D, process improvement and product development. He also reported on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Josh also led the IndustryWeek Manufacturing Hall of Fame, IW’s annual tribute to the most influential executives and thought leaders in U.S. manufacturing history.

Before joining IndustryWeek, Josh was the editor-in-chief of Penton Media’s Government Product News and Government Procurement. He also was an award-winning beat reporter for several small newspapers in Northeast Ohio.

Josh received his BFA in creative writing from Bowling Green University, and continued his professional development through course-work at Ohio University and Cuyahoga Community College.

A lifelong resident of the Buckeye State, Josh currently lives in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. When the weather cooperates, you’ll find him riding his bike to work, exercising his green thumb in the backyard or playing ultimate Frisbee.  

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