VIDEO: Jay Leno’s latest toy – Proterra’s electric bus

Jay gets to play with all the coolest toys – he’s tested lots of EVs, from SUVs to roadsters to motorcycles. The latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage features a hot rod for public transport buffs – the Proterra Ecoliner electric bus. Designed from the ground up as an EV, the new bus has been in service for Foothills Transit in Pomona, California for a year. The agency’s director gives Jay a complete demonstration.

One of the most innovative features is an overhead fast charger, which can charge the bus in about 10 minutes, allowing it to operate 24 hours a day. The concept is similar to a system that recently went into service in Sweden. However, the Swedes use a retractable “pantograph,” like those used by trains and trams, while Pomona’s Proterra has a special charging head that retracts into the overhead unit.

Buses have come a long way from their horse-drawn origins. This one is loaded with high-tech features, including GPS, DVR-equipped security cameras, and a “people counter” that automatically keeps track of passengers as they board. The body is made of a fiberglass and balsa wood composite developed by the navy – it’s far lighter than an old-fashioned steel bus, but strong enough to shrug off a collision with a car.