Production of Lightning ZEV4 Type A electric school buses is ramping up to address a market accelerated by major federal and state funding programs. - Photo: Lightning eMotors

Production of Lightning ZEV4 Type A electric school buses is ramping up to address a market accelerated by major federal and state funding programs.

Photo: Lightning eMotors

Lightning eMotors, a provider of zero-emission, medium-duty commercial vehicles and electric vehicle (EV) technology for fleets, has begun production of a next generation Type A electric school bus built on the GM platform.

Initial orders for nearly 70 next generation Type A school buses have begun moving across the production floor in Lightning eMotors’ 130,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Loveland, Colorado.

Leveraging Clean Vehicle Funding

Purchased by over 20 school districts across the U.S., many of these zero-emission, all electric buses are leveraging state funding and/or the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, which is providing school districts with $5 billion between 2022 and 2026 to incentivize the electrification of school buses. These funds can be stacked with the IRA commercial vehicle incentive, which gives schools $40,000 per electric vehicle, providing schools with electric school buses without the need for special budget referendums or increasing taxes. These districts are among more than 650 school districts from around the country that have committed to electrifying their fleets.

“Thanks to federal EPA and IRA funding, as well as an increasing number of state-level initiatives, clean school transportation is now truly a nationwide phenomenon,” said Kash Sethi, chief revenue officer for Lightning eMotors. “We’re actively supporting school districts nationally to leverage this opportunity and, as a result, we’re ramping up production and rolling out school buses in communities across the country and are expecting an active sales pipeline.”

About the Lightning ZEV4 School Bus

Lightning is producing electric school buses on its next generation Lightning ZEV4, built on the versatile GM 4500 platform. All Lightning ZEV4 models come equipped with 120 kWh batteries packaged safely between the frame rails. Each powertrain delivers 241 horsepower, 790 lb-ft of torque and a range of up to 130 miles. The ZEV4 is also capable of both Level 2 AC and 80 kW DC fast charging, and is V2G compatible.

“We’ve come a long way since first announcing our collaboration with GM last year to electrify GM-based class 3-6 vehicles for commercial applications, including our ZEV4 school buses,” said Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser. “Working with partners like GM to ramp up production and roll out electric school buses across the U.S. is just another example of how we are leading in commercial vehicle electrification, with more medium-duty electric vehicles on the road than anyone else.”

In addition to the financial benefits related to state- and federal-level funding initiatives like the Inflation Reduction Act and the EPA’s Clean School Bus Program, there are major environmental and health benefits associated with reduced tailpipe emissions, according to a news release. Current economic realities also make electric school buses more appealing than ever. 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 fossil fuels and require less maintenance, thereby reducing total cost of ownership when replacing aging diesel buses or adding new buses to school bus fleets.

With more than 600 electric vehicles deployed overall, Lightning eMotors has accelerated the deployment of commercial electric vehicles by providing proven technology, best-in-class reliability, end-to-end EV services, and world class support that simplifies fleet electrification. To date, Lightning vehicles have surpassed 4 million total real-world miles, mitigating nearly 5.5 million pounds of on-road C02 emissions.

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