Lightning eMotors expansion boosts production of fleet EVs for brands like GM

Your next bus ride might come from an EV.

Lightning eMotors

It's not just passenger cars and big rigs receiving the EV treatment — the vehicles in the middle are getting some TLC, too. Lightning eMotors is doubling its production capacity just weeks after partnering with GM to electrify medium-duty vehicles like delivery trucks, school buses and shuttles. The company's Colorado factory will make up to 1,500 fleet-worthy EVs per year by the end of 2022, with plans to produce 20,000 per year by 2025. Those figures might not sound like much, but Lightning is targeting a relatively niche audience.

The recent team-up will see Lightning "upfit" GM's medium-duty platform with electrified versions. While GM will provide the chassis, Lightning will produce the end product destined for commercial use. Lightning is GM's first specialty vehicle maker to offer full EVs in this category.

The combined efforts might not be as exciting as from-scratch electric cars headed to your driveway. Even so, it represents an important part of a broader effort to reduce transportation emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that 29 percent of US greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, and more than half of those emissions originate from road-going vehicles that include medium-duty machines. The more companies like GM and Lightning can electrify fleets, the closer they can get to eliminating transportation emissions as a factor in climate change.