Lightning eMotors releases update of electric transit van

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Updated Jan 29, 2021

Lightning eMotors transit vansLightning eMotors has debuted a new model of its popular Class 3 Lightning Electric Transit Van.

The new, longer-range Lightning Electric Transit Van is the fourth generation of its battery-electric and fuel cell electric platform, based on the Ford Transit 350HD chassis. Lightning says the Gen 4 powertrain, with new battery technology and up to 105 kWh of battery capacity, has up to 40 percent more range than the Gen 3’s 120-mile range as a battery-only vehicle, with fuel cell configurations extending the range to 250 miles (based on EPA-certified dynamometer testing) and new pricing that provides a compelling total cost of ownership versus a gasoline van.

“Used extensively by commercial and government fleets, Class 3 vehicles, such as passenger vans, cargo vans and ambulances, are ripe for electrification,” says Tim Reeser, CEO, Lightning eMotors. “Class 3 vehicles have an extended wheelbase and expanded cargo and payload capacity and are commonly used by mid-to-large-sized fleets.”

New for 2021, Lightning eMotors will offer a new digital dashboard that highlights range, efficiency and state of charge, a new phone application interface, and support for new Ford safety features, the company says. In addition, Lightning eMotors is the only electric van manufacturer that supports wheelchair lifts, custom floor rails, and custom bus doors. Lightning eMotors says it offers high-voltage integration to support battery operation of refrigeration systems, food truck equipment, medical equipment, RV gear, and other upfitter add-ons. Many of these new features also will be offered in Lightning eMotors’ Class 4, 5, 6 and 7 vehicles in 2021, the company says.

Lightning eMotors’ products are complementary to Ford’s announced 2022 E-Transit, which will be a battery-electric Class 2 cargo/cab/chassis van with an estimated 126 miles of range. The Lightning Electric Transit Van is available for order now, with deliveries starting in the second quarter of 2021.

“We are the only manufacturer to offer a CARB-certified electric van in the Class 3 segment,” Reeser says. “As a result, we’ve sold more all-electric commercial EVs than any other vehicle manufacturer in North America to date. The feedback from our customers over the last three years has been that they love the platform and its powerful, smooth and quiet ride, as well as the intuitive driving experience and readily available service and spare parts. This new battery technology and other upgrades give them the range, power and features at the price they need to scale up their electric fleets.”

The latest Lightning Electric Transit powertrain offers peak power of 160 kW (equivalent 215 horsepower), and a torque rating of 994 Nm (733 lb-ft). The company says the fully electric system is available for Ford Transit passenger vans, cargo vans, cutaway and chassis-cab models and also is available in configurations to support ambulances, school buses and RVs. The Gen 4 model achieves 61 MPGe on certified dyno testing, compared to 13 MPG for the gasoline version. This is the highest CARB dynamometer-certified efficiency rating for any Class 3 vehicle currently in the market, the company adds.

Featuring a new, state-of-the-art, modular liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery system, the Lightning Electric Transit Van 350HD can add 60 miles of range in 30 minutes of charge time when using DC fast charging with a standard SAE J1172 CCS-1 Combo charging port. Lightning eMotors offers a complete range of fleet-focused chargers and charging-as-a-service solutions, with full installation, utility integration, software control, and Low Carbon Fuel Standard and renewable energy credit support, the company adds.

With an 11,000-lb. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), the vehicle has a payload capacity of up to 4,840 lb., depending on the selected battery configuration option and other equipment.

“Fleets love the Class 3 Ford Transit, because it can haul more payload and carry more passengers,” Reeser says. “We work with many Ford upfit, accessory and service partners, so customers can easily obtain the accessories and service they need for their fleet. This is an elegantly engineered zero-emission solution on a proven platform for fleets.”

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