How SC investors saved this electric bus company now going public

Back in 2010, Proterra was on the brink of financial ruin.

The electric vehicle (EV) technology company was running out of money as it waited for $8 million from its main source of funding, MK Energy and Infrastructure of Stamford, Conn.

“At a couple of different points, we were within hours of filing for bankruptcy,” Marc Gottschalk, Proterra’s general counsel and director of business development, was quoted as saying in the Greenville Journal.

However, the company got offered a lifeline.

Shortly after announcing plans to relocate its manufacturing plant from Colorado to Greenville, South Carolina, a group of local investors partnered with the Upstate Carolina Angel Network (UCAN), SCRA and VentureSouth to provide bridge funding.

They became known as “Greenville’s Gang of 13.”

“Proterra is proud of our long history in the Greenville community,” a company spokesperson told Hypepotamus.

Fast-forward to today: The Burlingame, California-based firm — dubbed the “Tesla of electric buses” — is getting set to go public.

The decision comes through a merger with special purpose acquisition company ArcLight Clean Transition Corporation in deal representing an enterprise value of $1.6 billion for Proterra.

This transaction will provide us with additional capital and resources to accelerate our growth and scale our business and manufacturing as we enter our next chapter as a publicly listed commercial EV technology leader,” the spokesperson said.

What’s next for Proterra

Industry experts forecast commercial electric vehicles to grow to 100,000 by 2022, 500,000 by 2026 and one million by 2030. Predictions are that between 250,000 and 300,000 new commercial electric vehicles will be sold in the U.S. by 2030.

Aiming to ride that wave, Proterra says it will have up to $825 million in cash to fund growth.

Topping the list is growing its operations in Greenville, South Carolina, which is home to its East Coast manufacturing facility and test track.

The company initially relocated to the region due to its due to its close proximity to Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).

“Proterra has recently expanded our hiring efforts at our Greenville facility, and we now employ more than 350 workers at the facility,” the spokesperson said.

To date, Proterra has produced and delivered more than 300 megawatt-hours of battery systems, more than 550 heavy-duty electric transit buses and installed 54 megawatts of charging systems.

In 2019, Proterra delivered four electric buses to Greenlink Transit that bring clean, quiet transportation to the community.

Renowned automakers with Proterra Powered vehicles include Daimler’s Thomas Built Buses, Freightliner Custom Chassis Corporation, Van Hool, Optimal, and Bustech.

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