Lightning eMotors, a provider of medium-duty and specialty commercial electric vehicles for fleets, and Collins Bus Corporation, a manufacturer of Type A school buses and a subsidiary of REV Group, Inc., announced the expansion of their zero-emission Type A school bus offering to include both GM and Ford chassis platforms.
Expansion of the Lightning eMotors-Collins Bus strategic partnership, first announced last year, comes just months after the Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), announced $5 billion in guaranteed funding for school districts and eligible school bus operators and contractors to begin replacing the nation's fleet of school buses with clean, American-made, zero-emission buses. The funding is expected to play a critical role in accelerating the adoption of all-electric school buses across the country.
"We're excited to expand our existing partnership with Collins to include what is widely considered to be the preferred platform for the Type A school bus, the GM 4500," said Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser. "By providing both GM and Ford class 4 options for Collins Bus, we are now able to mitigate the chassis constraints currently being experienced in the marketplace and accelerate delivery of zero-emission vehicles to the districts that so desperately need them."
In addition to EPA funding and state-level initiatives, the environmental and health benefits of reduced tailpipe emissions and current economic realities could make electric school buses an even more appealing option. At a time when interest rates, fuel prices, and the costs of parts and labor for repairs are at all-time highs, electric buses use no fuel and require less maintenance, thereby reducing total cost of ownership when replacing aging diesel buses or adding to school bus fleets.
"We have been extremely happy with how our customer demos have gone, and how our partnership with Tim and the Lightning team is evolving," said Todd Gibson, director of sales, Collins Bus Corporation. "We look forward to deploying dozens more Lightning-powered zero-emission Collins Type A buses in the coming months and are available to work with school districts and school bus operators nationally to understand and apply for the program."
Both chassis versions of the Type A school bus come with 125 kWh of batteries, approximately 130 miles of range, and both AC level 2 at up to 13.2 kW and DC fast charge at up to 80 kW. Hundreds of Lightning vehicles are on the road today and have accumulated over 2 million real-world, zero-emission miles.
Between government funding, low operating costs, and the potential revenue generation from Low Carbon Fuel Standard credits (in certain states) and bidirectional grid charging during nonuse times, moving to electric school buses may no longer prove a financial burden for school districts but rather an investment that pays off in the near- and long-term.