Lightning eMotors, provider of medium-duty and specialty commercial electric vehicles for fleets, announced it has expanded its partnership with Forest River to offer a factory-certified all-electric repower program for shuttle buses and passenger vans. Forest River, in facts, is a Berkshire Hathaway Company that manufactures shuttle buses, recreational vehicles, cargo trailers, utility trailers and pontoon boats, and is the dominant manufacturer of shuttle buses across US and Canada.

Repowering commercial gas and diesel vehicles has been a common practice for many years, as the chassis and body often outlast the powertrains, while repowering vehicles with electric powertrains remains a largely untapped opportunity for many fleet operators.

There are currently more than 50,000 Forest River shuttle buses and passenger vans in the U.S. and Canada-many of these buses have been highly customized with wheelchair elevators, rooftop air conditioners and other equipment. Repowering these vehicles not only reduces emissions, but also preserves the previous investment and extends the life of the vehicle, all while reducing costs for the customer.

«There have been attempts by smaller and early-stage EV technology companies to repower gasoline and diesel buses to electric, but fleets have been hesitant to invest in these third-party, unauthorized and unproven solutions», Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser said. «With the Forest River and Lightning eMotors’ factory-certified repower program fleets can be assured they will get a proven and reliable solution backed by two established companies that will stand behind the offering and support the vehicles through their second life», he added.

Forest River’s factory-certified powertrains and installation will be backed by a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty. In addition, Lightning Energy will provide Forest River dealers and customers with custom microgrid energy and charging solutions, including Lightning’s mobile battery vehicle charging solutions to ensure customers have the infrastructure they need to support the rapid ramp-up of their zero-emission fleets.

This expanded agreement comes after Lightning and Forest River announced an $850 million, multi-year strategic partnership in 2021 to build up to 7,500 Class 4 and Class 5 zero-emission buses.

«We expect our new repower program with Lightning will be welcomed by our dealers because it is being introduced as the commercial bus industry continues to struggle with a production shortage caused by supply chain issues in the broader automotive market». said Forest River Bus President David Wright. “Lightning’s zero-emission powertrain provides our customers with an upgraded powertrain that is not only more sustainable and efficient than the gasoline engine being replaced, but also provides the latest safety and driving technology on a platform that is maintainable and highly customized for their needs”, he continued.

«Commercial vehicles have been repowered since their inception—as most are highly specialized and their chassis and bodies outlast their powertrains. Even electric commercial vehicles will need to be repowered in the future. his certified repower program is not only cost-effective but provides a reliable and sustainable solution for many shuttle buses and passenger vans on the road today, providing the vehicles with years of additional life while reducing emissions in our communities» said Kash Sethi, chief revenue officer for Lightning eMotors.


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