Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is what it is partly because of, Ryan Popple, who steered it to safety during its toughest years amidst the intrigues and concerns of the financial crisis that nearly threatened its existence. Having moved on from Tesla, Popple continued with his dream in the electric space; this time not on the luxury front, but spearheading efforts on electric buses.
Proterra is the South Carolina startup that Popple is nurturing into developing electric buses while bringing a few manufacturing jobs to the state. His vision for the company is already receiving support from authorities who have already issued a $3 million grant for the setting up of the plant in the state. Proterra does not have to worry about competition in the space as Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) continues to be fixated on developing luxury family electric cars.
Oil collapse burns electric hopes
However, just like Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA), Proterra has a fair amount of challenges to deal with in the electric space. The sickening drop in oil prices has only gone to dent prospects in the space as people have shifted attention to fuel guzzlers that have turned out to be cheap. The fact that the company’s buses retail for as much as $775,000 also arouses further concerns as typical diesel buses retail for $300,000.
Popple, however, maintains that rechargeable buses have benefits that cannot be matched by diesel buses. The CEO is especially betting big on Proterra’s vision, Governor, Jerry Brown, having stated that oil consumption in the transportation sector should be slashed by half, by 2030 begging the need for more electric buses. Electrifying the public transportation system is seen as one of the best ways controlling air pollution in the area, a struggle that has been ongoing for years.
Tesla molded bus firm
Financing for Proterra is not a problem, having already raised $125 million from a number of investors who believe in the company’s dream. Popple believes that his years at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) as a senior finance director molded him into becoming what he is now. Elon Musk had stated that the company was on the verge of bankruptcy had they not found more financing.
One key lesson learnt while at Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is maintaining a close eye on cash and cost, affirms Popple. Proterra buses used to go for $1 million, but a string of cost-cutting measures have seen the price come down to $775,000.