Lightning Systems, a developer of products to improve efficiency and emissions for fleets, is introducing a fully electric drive system for all variants of the Ford Transit, including passenger, cargo and cutaway vans as well as chassis cab models. The system was developed in partnership with Ann Arbor, MI-based New Eagle.
The product will be available first for heavy-duty Transits with a 10,360-lb. gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) and is slated to go on sale in early 2018. Upfitters and dealers certified as Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifiers (QVMs) will perform the conversions and service.
Depending on battery option and drive cycle, Lightning Systems said the LightningElectric Transit drive system will have a range of up to 125 miles and a payload capacity of up to 3,500 lbs. The company also noted that Ford's warranty will cover vehicles with the LightningElectric upfit, Ford Motor Credit financing is available and the system can be installed quickly "in just hours."
Lightning Systems, which was formerly known as Lightning Hybrids, worked with New Eagle on the design of the LightningElectric system for the Transit. New Eagle specializes in mechatronic controls — the electronic "brains" that drive mechanical systems — and applies model-based design in embedded systems in the fields of autonomy, electrification, hydraulics and engine systems.
"Our new LightningElectric model provides fleets with a terrific option to save money and achieve sustainability goals on a popular and serviceable Ford platform that is powerful, smooth and quiet," said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning Systems. He added that New Eagle's development work "significantly accelerated" the LightningElectric system for Transit and said the two companies' partnership was key to the product's long-term success.
"We saw a real need for a zero-emissions product in this segment of the fleet market," said Rich Swortzel, president of New Eagle. "We know that we have a product here that is going to be a favorite of many fleets."
Earlier this year, Ford granted Lightning Systems eQVM (Advanced Fuel Qualified Vehicle Modifier) status for its LightningHybrid system, a hydraulic hybrid energy recovery system that the company said offers 50% NOx reductions and up to 25% fuel savings for urban drive cycles. Applications include delivery trucks, shuttle and paratransit buses, refuse trucks and rear-engine transit buses. The system is available globally on more than 25 platforms, according to Lightning Systems.
Both the LightningElectric and LightningHybrid systems will be certified by Ford's new eQVM program.