Working under the assumption that more people would be inclined to use electric vehicles if they can just plug in anywhere, electric vehicle manufacturer Proterra has developed a patent-free, fast-charging system for electric buses.
The charging system uses robotic control (and some autonomous software on the bus) to juice up bus batteries in as little as 10 minutes, depending on the size of the battery pack. Charging at 250-1000V (DC) and up to 1400A, the system is eight times faster than the CHAdeMO fast-charging standard and between three and four times faster than Tesla’s Superchargers. Unlike the old fashioned pantograph which needs to cover the vehicle’s entire route, bus operators can install the charging system in terminals or at the same locations they use to refill their diesel tanks.
“The interesting thing is these diesel buses have such massive fuel tanks—given how inefficient they are—that it takes longer to completely refill an 80- or 120-gallon diesel bus system than it does to recharge our electric vehicles,” explains Proterra CEO Ryan Popple.
Proterra’s fast-charging system won’t be proprietary in its effort to get more developers to play around with their system.
Popple said that even if the company is growing very quickly, they still need to work out how to make the industry grow even faster. The decision to open up the core patents began with one of Proterra’s early customers asking if it could buy electric buses from another company and still use Proterra’s infrastructure.