DHL Putting 89 New Lightning Electric Vans On The Road


DHL Express (DHL) has been trialling 9 Lightning Electric Ford Transit 350HD electric vans since late last year in the United States. The pilot has been going well, and the company now intends to put another 89 on the roads of California and New York.

The electric vans, produced by Lightning eMotors, have an estimated “fuel economy” rating of 61 MPGe. Of course, electric vans don’t use gasoline, so they don’t have a true “miles per gallon” rating, but MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) is an attempt to create a comparison for electric vehicles. In that vein, DHL points out that a similar gas-powered van would have a fuel economy rating of 13 MPG.

Image courtesy of Lightning eMotors

The Lightning Electric Ford Transit 350HD also comes with some advanced tech to help its drivers accomplish their delivery tasks better. The vans “include proprietary telematics and analytics software, which will aid with route optimization, driver training and vehicle efficiencies.”

Naturally, this is expressed as being part of DHL’s efforts to cut CO2 emissions. However, it’s worth noting that a switch to electric vehicles will likely save DHL a good chunk of cash on the operations and maintenance side of the budget as well. Lightning eMotors is happily highlighting the latter (as well as the former), a good way to try to land more customers. “These new electric vans are designed to better serve DHL customers and help couriers to more efficiently and effectively deliver packages,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “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.

“The highly durable Lightning Electric Transit Vans include our proprietary telematics and analytics software, which will aid DHL with route optimization, driver training, route and vehicle efficiency

“DHL also has purchased DC fast chargers from our Lightning Energy division, which will ensure that the new vehicles are charged quickly and uptime maximized.”

DHL, meanwhile, is just sticking to the carbon-reduction message. It notes that it is “investing a total of 7 billion euros (Opex and Capex) over the next 10 years in measures to reduce its CO2 emissions.”

DHL is also testing out 4 electric tractor-trailer trucks in the Los Angeles region, where it is transporting packages from DHL LAX Gateway to service centers in the region.

Image courtesy of Lightning eMotors

We’ve covered Lightning eMotors for years, but it’s probably not well known the range of electric vehicles the company can make for customers. “Lightning eMotors, based in Loveland, Colorado, designs and manufactures zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, including delivery trucks, shuttle buses, passenger vans, chassis-cab models, city transit buses, and motor coaches. In addition to Transit passenger and cargo vans, Lightning’s products include all-electric vehicles based on the Ford E-450 shuttle bus and cutaway models, Ford F-53/59, Ford F-550 cargo trucks and buses, GM, Isuzu, and Hino Class 6 trucks. A new all-electric repower for motor coaches also is available, along with repower powertrains for 30-foot, 35-foot, and 40-foot transit buses.”

Lightning eMotors will soon be going public through, you guessed it, a SPAC — GigCapital3. The deal is expected to close in the 2nd quarter of 2021. And I have to say, the company will be getting a sweet ticker symbol on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) — “ZEV.” True, that doesn’t have anything in common with the name Lightning eMotors, but as you know, it stands for “zero-emissions vehicles.”

There are a handful of young, small, but growing companies trying to provide electric powertrain solutions and vehicles for light-duty and heavy-duty commercial operations. It’s unclear at this point who will turn into a manufacturing giant (or at least notable market player) in the coming decade, and I certainly would not offer any investment advice in this industry (or in general), but Lightning eMotors is clearly off to a good start getting a significant order from a company like DHL. Well, there is no company that compares to DHL, the largest international express shipping company. “[Lightning eMotors] is substantially differentiated from the competition due to regulatory approval, big partnerships, a commercially proven product, and a large order pipeline,” WY Capital writes. “Lightning provides a full suite of solutions for the Class 3-7 market and is the only company providing an electric powertrain solution currently.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on Lighting. We’ll also be sure to track DHL’s electrification progress and keep you updated.



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