Proterra selects CU-ICAR for research, development and assembly of hybrid commercial vehicles
Chooses CU-ICAR as new home, bringing 1,300 new jobs and a clean-energy research focus
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Proterra Inc., which develops and assembles fuel cell hybrid-powered transit vehicles, Thursday announced that it will locate a facility for research and development as well as assembly of its products at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford and a host of local and state leaders joined Proterra and Clemson University officials for the announcement.
“We are very excited to pursue the next stage of Proterra’s manufacturing and development in Greenville,” said Jeff Granato, CEO of Proterra Inc. “This new facility will be our first full-scale, state-of-the-art research and development and manufacturing facility for our groundbreaking clean transportation solutions. Several months ago, Proterra retained the help of eRealty Companies Inc. and NPB Capital to assist in the site selection process. After a nationwide search involving some 30 states, we selected Greenville, South Carolina, as a result of the state’s numerous benefits in terms of work force capabilities and research and development support. Additionally, we were impressed by the efforts of the governor, the federal delegation, the local officials and economic development entities which far exceeded our expectations. We look forward to continuing a long and fruitful level of collaboration with the state of South Carolina and City of Greenville.”
Granato said CU-ICAR was key to Proterra's decision. “The vision we see here offers a unique opportunity to develop the future of transportation technology. The partnerships we develop in this environment will keep us in the lead and help us discover new technologies that lead to new jobs.”
Proterra and its partners design, develop and assemble all-electric and battery-dominant hybrid drive solutions and complete vehicles for commercial applications, including transit, school and commercial buses; parcel delivery vehicles; and other class 4-8 trucks. Its revolutionary BE-35 fast charge battery electric transit bus has been tested at the Federal Transit Administration’s Altoona Center as achieving between 17 and 21 miles per gallon (diesel equivalent), a roughly 500 percent improvement over conventional diesel buses.
Proterra’s very first vehicle, a battery-dominant fuel cell-hybrid transit bus funded by the transit administration, is in service in Columbia, S.C. Proterra is headquartered in Golden, Colo., at the Coors Technology Center.
Clemson University President James F. Barker said the announcement brings one of the nation's most innovative transportation companies to Upstate South Carolina.
“This is exciting news for Clemson University, for Greenville, and for South Carolina,” Barker said. “Proterra is an innovative, dynamic company that brings a new dimension to the CU-ICAR campus. Its product and processes fit the CU-ICAR curriculum and our program-driven campus perfectly. We look forward to a great partnership.”
Proterra’s investment in Greenville was the result of a coordinated team effort from the federal congressional delegation to the local level. In addition to Clemson and the Clemson University Research Foundation, the South Carolina Department of Commerce, Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, Rep. Bob Inglis, Greenville Mayor Knox White, Greenville County Council Chairman H. G. “Butch” Kirven Jr., the Greenville Area Development Council and the South Carolina Research Authority were involved in structuring the package that led to Proterra's decision.
“Proterra's decision to put down roots in South Carolina represents not only a significant investment and new job opportunities, but also another step toward expanding our state's role in the growing market of next-generation environmentally related technologies,” said Sanford. “I’d offer the state's appreciation to Secretary (Joe E.) Taylor and his team at Commerce, along with all our economic development partners at the state and local levels, for their combined efforts to make our state that much more competitive in this global economy. With that said, we look forward to welcoming the Proterra team to South Carolina.”
Proterra anticipates that it will invest $68 million and create 1,300 new jobs over the next seven years in Greenville County. The company will require a variety of skilled workers to support functions, such as mechanical assembly, warehouse, logistics, management, engineering and quality assurance.
The Department of Commerce has approved Proterra for the Job Development Credits program, which is a performance-based incentive directly related to new job creation and new capital investment. Additionally, the department will make two grants to Greenville County totaling $3 million to assist with site preparation and infrastructure improvements for the project.
Proterra will lease 25 acres in CU-ICAR's Technology Neighborhood Three to construct a 240,000-square-foot building initially, with potential expansion into the entire 50-acre site. Construction is expected to begin later this spring.
Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research
Launched in 2003 and opened in 2006, CU-ICAR is an advanced-technology research campus where academia, industry and government organizations engage in synergistic collaboration. To date the 250-acre research campus off Interstate 85 in Greenville, S.C., has generated more than $215 million in funding commitments. The heart of the campus is the Carroll A. Campbell Graduate Engineering Center, which houses the nation’s first automotive engineering Ph.D. program. Private partners include BMW, which has a research-and-development facility on the campus; Michelin; Sun Microsystems; Timken; and others, now including Proterra. In 2009 CU-ICAR was named the top emerging technologies research campus in North America by the Association of University Research Parks.