CITY OF INDUSTRY >> The unveiling of a new electric bus manufacturing plant attracted Gov. Jerry Brown, Edison International President and CEO Pedro Pizarro and a host of other state and local officials Wednesday.
The company behind the new facility, Proterra, views the location at 383 Cheryl Lane as an optimal spot to serve West Coast transit agencies. Company officials said the building will compliment the company’s existing battery manufacturing facility in Silicon Valley and its East Coast vehicle production plant in Greenville, South Carolina.
• Photos: Gov. Brown, others tour electric bus plant
Proterra has already supplied San Gabriel Valley-based Foothill Transit with 17 zero-emission, battery-powered electric buses, and it’s ramping up production to provide the agency with 30 new Proterra Catalyst E2 models, the first of which will be delivered this week.
Foothill has committed to go 100 percent electric by 2030.
“This is our fourth deployment to Foothill Transit,” Proterra President and CEO Ryan Popple said. “Today, we’re not just celebrating a factory, we’re celebrating the first commercial delivery of the longest range EV transit technology in the world. Today the vehicles have enough range to cover almost every route in mass transit. These vehicles have up to 200 miles per charge.”
Prices have dropped by more than 40 percent, Popple said, and companies are growing rapidly in California to serve the market. Proterra’s 40-foot electric buses are currently selling for about $775,000 each. But Matt Horton, the company’s chief commercial officer, said that price drops when a transit agency orders several vehicles.
More deliveries coming
Popple said Proterra will soon be delivering electric buses to Visalia, Modesto, CSU Fresno, rural areas of Fresno and San Jose. The company is also hoping to provide vehicles to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which is looking to achieve a zero-emission fleet by 2030.
Brown described Proterra’s new plant as “the latest expression of really smart, clean technology,” while also touting the state Legislature’s approval to extend California’s cap-and-trade program. Brown signed Assembly Bill 398 on Tuesday, which extends cap-and-trade until 2030. The program, which requires companies to buy permits to release greenhouse gas emissions, was previously set to expire in 2020.
Lots of conflict
“We didn’t get here without a lot of conflict and we had a lot of conflict in formulating some of these policies,” Brown said. “And when I say ‘we,’ I don’t mean me and the Democrats — I mean decades of leadership. I stand here on the shoulders of a lot of people.”
Brown said the state Air Resources Board was developed and refined over decades, drawing upon the expertise of scientists, engineers and other experts whose mission has been to attain healthy air quality and protect people from exposure to toxic air contaminants.
“It was that 50-year development that gets us here,” he said. “Yes, we have policies, but they weren’t invented by me yesterday. They have been evolving and developing on the part of many people going all the way back to 1969. You don’t get stuff overnight. You have instant coffee … but you don’t have instant innovation.”
Brown said more electric cars, trucks and buses are needed on California roads to achieve the state’s stringent climate goals. A landmark bill that was passed last year seeks to lower California’s carbon emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Pizarro said Edison supports Proterra’s move to expand its operations.
“We invested in Proterra because we believe strongly in their mission to electrify public transportation,” he said.
Increased job creation
Proterra’s new facility has created 40 new jobs in the City of Industry, but that number is expected to reach 60 later this year and 100 by the end of 2018.
Funded in part by a grant from the California Energy Commission, the company’s new Industry facility has the capacity to produce 400 electric buses a year.
“We are proud that this revolutionary company chose our city as its newest home,” Mayor Mark Radecki said. “Our city is committed to making it easier for businesses to build and expand. We look forward to working with Proterra in the future as we have a shared vision of investing in local jobs, innovation and improving our environment.”
Proterra sources more than 75 percent of its materials in the U.S.