Proterra’s electric buses use a proprietary en route fast-charging system that allows them to be charged at brief stops, extending their effective range. Now the company has taken a page from Tesla’s book, offering its charging technology to the transit industry on a royalty-free basis.
Proterra has announced that it will grant anyone royalty-free access to the patents covering its overhead charging design, including the bus-mounted charging blade and the single-blade vehicle coupling mechanism. Under this arrangement, the system will be available for purchase from third-party manufacturers, which Proterra hopes will advance standardization efforts and encourage more innovation.
Proterra’s system uses an overhead charging station with a sort of reverse pantograph, which makes contact with a small unit on the roof of the bus. It is in service at several transit agencies across the country, which have collectively performed more than 256,000 charging events over the past five years.
The single-blade vehicle coupling mechanism supports a charging voltage range of 250-1000 VDC, and can provide electrical current of up to 1,400 amps.
“At Proterra, we’re determined to enhance and expand the EV transit sector as a whole,” said CEO Ryan Popple. “We believe that everyone benefits from open platforms and greater customer choice.”
“As more and more electric buses operate on US roads, it will be critical for the transit industry to have access to open technology platforms in order to effectively scale this technology,” said Lee Gibson, Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County, Nevada.