Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU) Authority has approved the purchase of four Proterra Catalyst E2 zero-emissions battery-electric transit buses and related charging infrastructure. 

The purchase marks Proterra's first airport customer and the first airport electric bus deployment in the Carolinas.

"Bringing zero-emission buses to airports throughout North America is an integral part of Proterra's next stage of growth," said Proterra CEO,Ryan Popple.

Currently, RDU shuttle buses transport around 112,000 passengers and luggage per month between the airport's two ParkRDU Economy lots and terminals with a diesel-powered fleet consisting of 14, 40-foot transit buses, which are replaced every seven to ten years.

Funded in part by a US$1.6m zero-emissions vehicle grant from the Federal Aviation Administration, the new Proterra battery-electric buses will replace four older diesel vehicles, resulting in the elimination 16.9m pounds of greenhouse gases.

The operational cost of electricity, at US$0.19/mile, is substantially lower than diesel, at US$0.84/mile.  Combining this with greatly improved vehicle efficiency, at 21mpg equivalent and reduced vehicle maintenance costs, will result in savings of around US$1.8m during the 12-year lifetime of the new Proterra buses. 

Scheduled to be placed in service in early 2019, the buses will be designed and built at Proterra's Greenville, South Carolina manufacturing facility.

About the FAA Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle Grant:

The Federal Aviation Administration's Zero Emissions Airport Vehicle and Infrastructure Pilot Programme was created in 2012 to improve airport air quality and facilitates use of zero emissions technologies at airports.

Grants are awarded for up to 50% of the cost of zero emissions vehicles and associated infrastructure.