Lightning eMotors partners with DHL, Proterra

Lightning eMotors partners with DHL, Proterra

Commercial van electric vehicle company expanding as fleets embrace green options.


Loveland, Colorado – Lightning eMotors, a company that converts Ford Transit commercial vans into electric vehicles (EVs) inked two recent deals to expand its customer base and establish a future supply chain for batteries.

Lightning uses HD Transit models, meaning Class 3-4 commercial products with high cargo weight ratings. Many of the vans feature dual rear wheels to handle higher weights. Ford plans to launch its own E-Transit vehicle as a 2022 model (either late this year or early next), but that will be a Class 1-2 light van.

Battery deal

Proterra, a maker of electric municipal buses and other large vehicles and a maker of battery systems, will provide battery technology for Lightning eMotors Generation 4 Lightning Electric Transit commercial van.

Lightning eMotors anticipates annual production of up to 3,000 vehicles by 2023. The first Lightning Electric Transit vans are expected to be delivered to customers later this year.

“Proterra’s batteries are premium technology for premium vehicles,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “We’ve delivered more zero-emission medium-duty commercial EVs than any other manufacturer in North America, and Proterra’s batteries will allow us to give our customers even more range, power, and features on our purpose-built vehicles at the price they need to scale up their electric fleets.”

Gareth Joyce, president of Proterra Powered & Energy, added, “Together, we’re showcasing how American electric vehicle manufacturers are accelerating the shift to a clean transportation future.”

Both companies were founded in Colorado, though Proterra has since moved its headquarters to Burlingame, California, in the northern reaches of Silicon Valley.

Built by Lightning eMotors, the Lightning Electric Transit is the only Class 3 electric van currently available in the U.S. that allows for wheelchair lifts, custom floor rails, and custom bus doors. Lightning offers high-voltage integration to support battery operation of refrigeration systems, food-truck equipment, medical equipment, RV gear, and other upfitter add-ons. Assembly of the Lightning Electric Transit is performed at Lightning eMotors’ 231,000ft2 facility in Loveland, Colorado.

DHL commitment

DHL Express, the world’s leading provider of international express shipping services, following a successful initial pilot program using nine Lightning Electric Ford Transit 350HD electric vans, plans to deploy the remaining 89 electric vehicles this year in New York and California.

The vans are capable of achieving 61 miles per gallon equivalents (mpge), compared to 13mpg for similar gas-powered vans. They also include proprietary telematics and analytics software, which will aid with route optimization, driver training, and vehicle efficiencies.

“We’re aiming to improve the lives of people where they live and work, using clean pickup and delivery solutions – such as electric vehicles and cargo cycles – for our first- and last-mile services,” said DHL Express U.S. CEO Greg Hewitt. “With the successful deployment of the first nine pilot vehicles, we are excited to expand our electric delivery van footprint and continue to drive forward our corporate roadmap to decarbonization.”

DHL also began piloting four electric tractor-trailer vehicles in the Los Angeles market, to haul goods to and from the DHL LAX Gateway and local service centers.

“These new electric vans are designed to better serve DHL customers and help couriers to more efficiently and effectively deliver packages,” Reeser said. “At the same time, they are helping DHL to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve urban air quality, as well as reduce noise on the streets.”

On March 22, Deutsche Post DHL Group announced an accelerated roadmap to decarbonization, which includes investing $8.2 billion throughout the next 10 years in measures to reduce its CO2 emissions.