Metro Detroit Supplier Partners with California Battery Developer on Electric Shuttle

A local company has partnered with a battery company in California to develop an all-electric low-floor cutaway shuttle bus based on a Ford E450 chassis for the North American market.
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S1LF shuttle bus by Optimal Electric Vehicles
Optimal has designed an electric bus that is low enough to easily add accessibility ramps. // Rendering courtesy of Optimal Electric Vehicles

A local company has partnered with a battery company in California to develop an all-electric low-floor cutaway shuttle bus based on a Ford E450 chassis for the North American market.

Optimal Electric Vehicles in Plymouth Township is working with Proterra in California to develop the bus, called the S1LF. It will use Proterra’s high-performance battery systems, which offer industry-leading energy density for maximum range, a flexible design to fit in a variety of vehicles, and are validated to ensure safe and durable vehicle operation.

The Proterra battery system will feature 113 kilowatt-hours of energy capacity and an all-electric, zero-emission drive system that is designed to enable more than 125 miles of driving range. The vehicle will be able to charge completely in about two hours with optional DC fast charging.

The bus integrates a Ford E450 chassis platform, which has been optimized for the vehicle body. It will also feature a gross vehicle weight rating of 14,500 pounds with no reduction in carrying capacity.

“Electric vehicles offer a smoother, quieter rider experience while producing zero tailpipe emissions for improved air quality and public health,” says Dan Daniels, COO of Optimal. “Optimal is expanding the accessibility of EV technology to more riders by introducing the industry’s first all-electric low-floor shuttle bus. Proterra’s expertise and experience in battery-electric transit buses makes them an ideal and trusted partner as we design and deliver this new vehicle.”

The bus is expected to debut at the APTA EXPO 2021, set for March 2021 in California and be available for commercial purchase the same year. It is the first of several planned commercial electric vehicles from Optimal.

“Commercial urban fleets are an ideal use case for EV technology, and we are excited to partner with Optimal to achieve a major milestone for the North American electric vehicle market,” says Jack Allen, CEO of Proterra. “Proterra’s best-in-class battery technology has been proven in more than 12 million miles of service with our transit buses across North America. Now, we look forward to providing the same industry-leading technology to power the first all-electric S1LF low-floor shuttle bus with Optimal.”

Proterra Powered uses Proterra’s electric vehicle technology and expertise to help commercial vehicle manufacturers electrify their vehicles. As an OEM that uses its own battery technology to power its fleet of heavy-duty electric transit buses, Proterra has more than a decade of experience manufacturing, testing, and delivering electric vehicles.

It has helped OEMs including Thomas Built Bus, Van Hool, and FCCC introduce battery electric vehicles. Proterra battery packs are engineered and manufactured in the U.S. The company also offers high power charging systems.

Optimal has been in business for 33 years and offers automotive grade products. The company’s low-floor design, which is made possible by the packaging of battery electric propulsion, allows for ultra-low 11-inch step-in height and quick deployment of accessibility ramps.

The company’s manufacturing center is in Indiana.

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