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South Carolina DOE orders 160 Proterra-powered electric school buses

Ross Norton //March 30, 2023//

South Carolina DOE orders 160 Proterra-powered electric school buses

Ross Norton //March 30, 2023//

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The South Carolina Department of Education will buy 160 Thomas electric school buses, powered by Proterra, for school districts across the state over the next year, under a new procurement finalized this month between the Department of Education and Thomas Built Buses dealer Interstate Transportation.

The 160-bus order is the largest to date funded by the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean School Bus Program. (Illustration/Provided by Proterra)The buses are Proterra Powered Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley electric school buses. Proterra is headquartered in Burlingame, Calif., with manufacturing facilities in Los Angeles and Greenville. The company considers Greenville its anchor for East Coast operations.

“With our company’s long history in South Carolina, Proterra is thrilled to see the surge in the number and variety of schools that will soon have access to electric school buses in the state that many of our employees call home,” Chris Bailey, Proterra’s chief business officer, said in the release. “Knowing that the EV technologies we’re building at our Powered 1 battery factory in Greer, S.C., are enabling the next generation of clean, quiet transportation for South Carolina students makes this news even more special to our Proterra team. Now, through initiatives like the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, even more students and communities are accelerating the transition to an all-electric, emissions-free future.”

Proterra has manufactured part of the electric bus in Greenville for nearly two decades, but announced plans in December 2021 to invest at least $76 million in a new battery manufacturing plant in Greer. The company two months ago celebrated production of its first battery.

Related article: Proterra produces first EV battery at its Greer plant

The 160-bus order for South Carolina schools is the single largest order of electric school buses funded entirely by the Environmental Protection Agency’s new Clean School Bus Program, according to a news release.

“The South Carolina Department of Education is proud to partner with Thomas Built Buses and Proterra to bring more zero-emission, all-electric school buses to our state. We’re excited to see the positive impact these buses will have on our community,” Mike Bullman, transportation director for the S.C. Department of Education, said in the news release. “This partnership puts South Carolina at the forefront of the vehicle electrification movement and brings us one step closer toward building a healthier and more sustainable future for the next generation of students.”

Thomas Built Buses and Proterra offer school bus operators an electric vehicle program that includes EV planning and funding consultation, electric school buses, charging systems, and charging infrastructure design and installation. The Saf-T-Liner C2 Jouley couples 226 kilowatt hours of onboard energy from Proterra Powered’s battery technology to offer up to 135 miles of drive range to meet the needs of school bus fleets, the release said. More than 300 Thomas Proterra Powered electric school buses are on the road, and have driven more than 1 million miles for school districts across North America.

Thomas Built Buses is currently the only school bus manufacturer to offer DC fast charging architecture as standard equipment, the releasesaid. The Jouley can charge in about three hours and can supply power back to the grid using vehicle-to-grid technology.

“We applaud the state of South Carolina for their commitment to providing emission-free pupil transportation solutions to the many areas awarded funding through the Clean School Bus Program,” Kevin Bangston, president and CEO of Thomas Built Buses, said in the release. “It’s an ambitious undertaking and we are proud to be a key partner in this initiative.”

Founded in 1916, Thomas Built Buses is headquartered in High Point, N.C. It is a subsidiary of Daimler Truck North America LLC, which also produces and markets commercial vehicles under the Freightliner and Western Star nameplates.