A US$200 million credit facility to support a battery-leasing programme for electric buses in North America has been launched by Japanese chemicals company Mitsui & Co and automotive firm Proterra.
The companies said the initiative is expected to lower the upfront costs of zero-emission buses and make Proterra’s electric buses “roughly the same price as a diesel bus”.
California-based Proterra said bus operators can purchase a vehicle and lease its battery packs— based on lithium-ion technology co-developed with South Korea’s LG Chem— over the 12-year lifetime of the bus.
As a result, “the initial capital expense for the bus will be similar to a diesel or CNG (compressed natural gas) bus”— and cash that would have been earmarked for fuel costs can be used to pay the battery lease.
The lease agreement also provides a performance warranty on the batteries and new batteries at mid-life “to help customers ensure they always have plenty of energy to meet their route needs and hedge against future replacement battery costs”, Proterra said.
In addition, as E2 batteries reach the end of their useful life, they will be re-used in other applications. Proterra said the battery packs “are designed with secondary usage in mind, with simplified integration for easy removal and a form factor that enables repurposing”.
In 2017, Proterra and LG Chem announced their development of E2 battery pack cells— “optimised to meet the unique performance and safety demands of the heavy-duty vehicle market”.