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TPI to add bus body manufacturing

Published: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 10:03 a.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Nov. 10, 2017 10:51 a.m. CST

TPI Composites in Newton is adding composite bus bodies to its manufacturing line up. The company announced Wednesday it has entered into a five-year supply agreement with Proterra Inc. to supply the buses from both its Newton and Rhode Island plants starting in the first half of 2018.

“We are excited to expand our relationship with Proterra and to support Proterra’s continued growth in the electric bus market as well as continue to demonstrate TPI’s deep advanced composite technology capabilities across multiple industry segments,” TPI President and CEO Steve Lockard said.

TPI will house the new manufacturing at the former Maytag Plant 2, leasing 100,000 square feet at the building. Newton Development Corporation Executive Director Frank Liebl said the addition will also bring new jobs to Newton with the company eventually looking to hire more than 300 people.

“We are very pleased that TPI has decided to start this operation in Newton,” Liebl said. “With the contract they signed with Proterra, opening a facility in Newton is a real positive thing. Job growth in the community is in part from companies that are already here and that is so positive for the city of Newton.”

Under the new contract, TPI will provide capacity for up to 3,350 bus bodies during a five-year period. The buses are a composite structure utilizes a combination of reinforcement materials including fiberglass and carbon fiber that enables a lightweight body structure that weighs thousands of pounds less than conventional metallic space frames. The lower mass composite body structure is one factor that enables Proterra to provide an industry-leading range for its battery-electric vehicles. Composite structures provide additional performance advantages with enhanced durability and reduced maintenance costs, by providing a corrosion-free solution.

“As cities and municipalities throughout North America transition to zero-emission buses, TPI’s expanded manufacturing footprint and advanced composites technology will help us to scale the production of our electric buses and cost-effectively serve our California and South Carolina factories in the United States,” Proterra CEO Ryan Popple said.

TPI currently serves as the only independent manufacturer of composite wind blades with a global footprint and a reputation as an innovation leader for composite structures in the transportation market utilizing advanced composite technology and manufacturing expertise. The wind blade producer located to Newton almost 10 years ago, and their facility is at 2300 N. 33rd E.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com