Lightning eMotors (NYSE: ZEV), a provider of specialty commercial EVs for fleets, and Forest River, a Berkshire Hathaway company, have formed a strategic partnership to deploy up to 7,500 zero-emission shuttle buses.
The $850-million deal calls for Lightning to build fully electric powertrains and provide charging products and services for Forest River over the next four and a half years.
Lightning eMotors will manufacture electric powertrain systems at its facility in Loveland, Colorado, and ship them to Forest River’s factory in Goshen, Indiana, for final assembly. Forest River has more than 500,000 square feet of production space, and plans to dedicate 100,000 square feet to install Lightning’s powertrains.
Manufacturing of Forest River Lightning EV shuttles has already begun, and Forest River expects to deliver several dozens of the new electric shuttle buses to its network of over 100 dealerships by the end of this year.
The vehicles that Forest River and Lightning will co-produce are Class 4 and 5 shuttle buses with gross vehicle weight ratings ranging from 14,500 to 19,500 pounds. The buses will feature battery configurations from 80 kWh to more than 160 kWh, and ranges between 80 and 160 miles. Available configurations will have between 12 and 33 passenger seats, with available ADA options, and bus lengths of 20 to 34 feet. All vehicles will be compliant with Buy America guidelines.
Lightning’s charging division, Lightning Energy, will offer a comprehensive suite of infrastructure products and services to Forest River dealers and shuttle bus operators, including Lightning’s DC fast charging hardware with integrated vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities.
“This has the potential to be the largest contract ever in the electric shuttle bus market, and we believe it will be the catalyst for other large commercial vehicle OEMs and fleets to accelerate their adoption of commercial electric vehicles,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “Forest River’s family of shuttle bus companies, including top name brands like Starcraft, Glaval, and Champion, maintain a dominant market position, selling over 10,000 units per year in the Class 4 to 6 shuttle bus space. “
“We decided to work with Lightning eMotors after several years of extensive research because of their market and technology leadership in the commercial EV segment,” said David Wright, President of Forest River’s bus divisions. “I was especially impressed after visiting their manufacturing facility in Colorado, driving their vehicles, and talking to their customers. It is clear why Lightning eMotors is at the forefront of fleet electrification.”
“Transit agencies and other shuttle operators, including airports, parking lots, hotels, and corporate and university campuses, have had an increasing selection of options for large full-size electric buses,” said Kash Sethi, Chief Revenue Officer of Lightning. “However, supply for medium-duty electric buses has been limited to smaller EV companies working with regional dealerships to retrofit buses. This model has proven to be neither cost-efficient nor scalable. Now, Forest River [will offer] zero-emission buses as part of their core product portfolio. We believe that will greatly improve the availability of premium-quality, cost-effective electric buses.”
Source: Lightning eMotors