GM Ventures, a unit of General Motors Co, invested $6 million in Proterra Inc., a manufacturer of electric commercial transit buses that’s based in Golden, Colo. GM Ventures will also take an undisclosed stake. It is a member of a group headed by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that plans to invest as much as $30 million in Proterra.
Founded in 2004, Proterra produces zero-emission, electric buses at a temporary plant located in Greenville, S.C. The vehicle can carry up to 68 passengers. When it has a full load, it returns an equivalent of about 24 miles per gallon.
This makes it about more efficient than the regular diesel bus. On a single charge, it can go as far as 40 miles. When using a fast charger, it can recharge in about 10 minutes.
Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures, said in a statement that this equity investment shows just how much GM is committed to electric propulsion. GM has received a lot of attention for its plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt car. GM is leaning towards electric vehicles and aims to acquire the success that Toyota Motor Corp. has been having with its Prius hybrid.
This is the seventh investment made by GM's venture capital arm that had only been set up last June with $100 million in funds. Its investments have so far ranged from $3 million to $7 million.
An area that GM has been focusing in is technologies that relate to electric and environmentally friendly vehicles. It is also looking into sensors or processors, in-car information-entertainment technologies, and "smart" or advanced materials that can boost the performance or reduce costs.