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GM COMMERCIAL VEHICLES ARE GOING ELECTRIC SOONER THAN YOU THINK

Fully Electric GM Class 3 Through Class 6 Commercial Vehicles Incoming

2021 Low Cab Forward and Silverado Medium Duty trucks. Photo Courtesy of Chevrolet.

General Motors has agreed to collaborate with Lightning eMotors in order to offer fully electric commercial vehicles designed to meet the needs of several industries. Lightning will focus on GM Class 3 through Class 6 commercial vehicles for conversion into school buses, shuttles, delivery vans, and work trucks among other things.

Under the agreement, GM will supply Lightning with medium-duty truck platforms for conversion at its manufacturing facility in Loveland, Colorado. GM Fleet produces a variety of platforms designed for conversion by Specialty Vehicle Manufacturing upfitters in order to serve a wide range of industries and applications.

“We are thrilled that GM is working with Lightning eMotors to make GM’s medium-duty truck platform the basis for new electric vehicles,” said Lightning CEO and co-founder Tim Reeser. “GM’s inclusive approach to electrification is a great match for Lightning’s position and role as a leading powertrain supplier in the commercial vehicle space.”

Lightning’s current lineup is entirely made up of electric conversions ranging from Class 3 cargo vans to Class A motor coaches and BEV ambulances. The majority of the medium-duty vehicles currently offered by the company are based on Ford platforms like the Transit, E-450, and F-550.

Lightning eMotors already offers a Class 6 conversion of the Isuzu FTR/Chevrolet 6500XD low cab which offers up to 132 miles of range when equipped with a 192 kWh battery pack. Other choices include 128 kWh or 160 kWh battery packs which offer 88 and 110 miles of range, respectively. The 192 kWh pack can achieve full charge in just over 2 hours when using a DC fast charger. The current Class 6 truck is listed with 295 horsepower for all battery capacities, and the first gear torque multiplier offers 1,823 lb-ft of twist.

“GM has provided chassis to commercial vehicle upfitters and fleets for many years, so to now offer electrified versions of these vehicles with Lightning’s powertrains demonstrates our joint vision towards an electrified future that is putting vehicles on the road today,” said Reeser. “We are at the forefront of specialty vehicle fleet electrification.”

Keep in mind, GM will only be providing the platforms to Lightning, the Class 3 to Class 6 conversions will not be offering Ultium battery packs or drive motors. GM CEO Mary Barra has committed the automaker to offer fully-electric HD trucks by the time 2035 rolls around, but it’s not clear if that promise only pertains to retail level Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 HD trucks. The Bulk of GM’s medium-duty commercial vehicle sales are made from Silverado 4500, 5500, and 6500 HD chassis cabs used mainly for cube vans, small busses, and ambulances.

 

Written by Michael Accardi

Michael refuses to sit still, he's held multiple hands-on automotive jobs throughout his life. Along with being an investigative writer and accomplished photographer, Michael has wrenched on Fords as a dealership mechanic, worked with air-cooled Porsches in a small shop in Toronto, as well as Nautique ski boats in cottage country. Additionally, he was part of the Ford GT program at Multimatic, oversaw a fleet of Audi TCR racecars, and cared for GT3 Cup cars. Currently he's working with a Duqueine LMP3 in the IMSA WeatherTech paddock.

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