Lightning eMotors, a specialty commercial electric vehicle provider for fleets, and Forest River Inc., a Berkshire Hathaway company, have entered into a strategic partnership agreement to deploy up to 7,500 zero-emission shuttle buses.
The agreement, with a potential estimated value of up to $850 million, calls for Lightning eMotors 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 the zero-emission-vehicle powertrain systems at its facility in Colorado and ship the powertrains to Forest River’s factory in Indiana for final assembly.
The vehicles that Forest River and Lightning eMotors 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 using battery thermal management systems. These vehicles support ranges on a single charge between 80 and 160 miles and can recharge over a lunch break using Lightning eMotors’ DC fast charge infrastructure with integrated vehicle-to-grid capabilities.
Available configurations will have between 12 and 33 passenger seats with ADA options available, and bus lengths of 20 to 34 feet. Other features include a modern digital-dash display, hill-hold functionality for safety, advanced telematics, analytics, and a mobile app for drivers and fleet managers.
All vehicles will be compliant with the Federal Transit Administration’s “Buy America” and the Federal Aviation Administration’s “Buy American” guidelines.
Forest River’s 100-plus bus dealership locations throughout the U.S. and Canada will have the opportunity to sell and service these vehicles. Manufacturing of Forest River Lightning EV shuttles has already begun, and Forest River expects to deliver several dozen of the new electric shuttle buses to its dealerships by the end of this year.
Lightning eMotors’ charging division, Lightning Energy, will offer a suite of charging and charging infrastructure-related products and services to Forest River dealers and shuttle-bus operators.