School bus manufacturer Collins Bus (subsidiary of REV Group, Inc.) has reached an agreement with all-electric powertrains provider Lightning eMotors. The strategic partnership has the goal of manufacturing and deploying zero-emission, all-electric Type A school buses.

The agreement includes an initial firm order commitment worth approximately $11M over the next two years, with Lightning eMotors to provide all-electric powertrains including installation, and charging infrastructure products and services.

The first batch of all-electric Collins school buses leveraging Lightning’s EV technology is already in production, with buses expected to be delivered to dealerships and school districts this fall.

There are nearly half a million school buses in the U.S., that are sitting at peak electric times available to put energy back on the grid, making student transportation a key part in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).

Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors

Collins Bus – Lightning eMotors: electric school buses ahead

Collins Bus is a market leader in the Type A school bus space and has deployed more than 70,000 buses over the last 50 years across the United States and Canada.

The all-electric Type A school buses developed by REV’s subsidiary with Lightning eMotors drivetrain will have a gross vehicle weight of 14,500 pounds each and will feature NMC batteries using industry-leading battery thermal management and safety systems. The buses will support both Level 2 AC charging and Level 3 DC Fast Charging, with integrated vehicle-to-grid (V2G) capabilities, Lightning eMotors points out. Other features will include «a modern digital-dash display, hill-hold functionality for safety, advanced telematics, analytics, and a mobile app for drivers and fleet managers».

Electric school buses in the US, the framework

Lightning eMotors underlines that the U.S. Senate recently voted for a $1 trillion infrastructure bi-partisan bill. The bill includes $7.5 billion dedicated to building additional charging stations for electric vehicles, while another $7.5 billion would help fund swapping out current school buses. The bill is now in the house, pending major negotiations.

According to the Clean Energy Leadership Institute, there are roughly 480,000 school buses being used for school transportation in the U.S. These buses travel a total of nearly 3.5 billion miles each year, and nearly 95% of them run on diesel or gasoline fuel. These buses are parked during peak electric grid hours in the afternoon and all summer, with available energy to put back on the grid through Lightning’s V2G solution.

Nearly 500,000 school buses in the US

“School districts across the U.S. and Canada are eager to introduce zero-emission electric buses,” said Brian Perry, president at REV Commercial Segment. “In addition to being clean, green, and sustainable, electric school buses are quiet, efficient, and much less expensive to maintain. We’re pleased to be working with Lightning eMotors to provide districts with the all-electric buses their students, drivers, and communities want.”

“Collins has decades of bus manufacturing experience and is a long-standing leader in Class A school buses, with a well-established and loyal dealer network and customer base,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “We are thrilled that they have selected us to be their EV technology partner. There are nearly half a million school buses in the U.S., that are sitting at peak electric times available to put energy back on the grid, making student transportation a key part in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions (GHG).  We believe Collins’ leadership can be a strong catalyst for the market to move to all electric. Together, we are ready to bring zero-emission school buses to a neighborhood near you.”

“We are excited about matching our bus manufacturing experience with Lightning’s proven EV technology,” said Chris Hiebert, VP and general manager of Collins Bus. “Our customers and dealers have been asking for a high-performance, cost-effective zero-emission school bus, with demand increasing significantly in recent months. After visiting Lightning’s facility in Colorado, we were convinced they are the right partner for us.”

“Electrifying school buses just makes sense,” said Kash Sethi, chief revenue officer, Lightning eMotors. “The environmental and health benefits are a no brainer. With predicable routes, dedicated overnight parking at school bus depots, fuel and maintenance savings, all-electric school buses now make a lot of operational and financial sense as well. We are excited to partner with Collins and look forward to working with their nationwide dealer network to lead the school bus industry towards a zero-emission future.”


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