Lightning eMotors Technology
Lightning eMotors creates the electric power train and works with OEMs and upfitters to integrate the powertrain in an OEM chassis, turning that vehicle into an all-electric van, truck, or bus. The Lightning power train consists of an electric motor, transmission, power electronics, integrated control system, charging system, digital dashboard, thermal management system and batteries. The complete vehicle is easy and enjoyable to drive, quiet and reliable. It produces no on-road emissions, and costs much less to run than equivalent gasoline or diesel vehicles.
Lightning ZEVs are Zero Emission Vehicles. They run wholly on electric power meaning there are no tailpipe emissions. This means they are a great fit for air quality controlled areas, since emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), sulfur compounds and oxides of nitrogen (NOX) are zero. In addition, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are also zero, which reduces the vehicles’ impact on climate change. Emissions of Particulate Matter (PM) are close to zero due to the lack of exhaust soot.
While there are no emissions from the vehicles on the road, there are often CO2 emissions arising from the generation of the electricity used to charge the vehicles. Fossil fuel power plants such as natural gas and coal produce CO2, whereas wind, solar, hydro, geothermal and nuclear generally do not. A judgment of the CO2 emissions in your area can be made by knowing the local “grid mix”, which is the mix of generation sources in your region. For example, California’s generation is approximately 50% natural gas, with renewable sources making up most of the remainder. This means that not much CO2 is produced when charging an EV in California. However, it’s important to note that due to the much better efficiency of electric motors compared to gasoline or diesel motors, even if your local electricity is produced from fossil fuels, the amount of CO2 emitted per mile of driving the EV is still much less than driving an equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle per mile. Finally, as states and nations transition to renewable energy, EVs become greener over time.
The components used in our powertrains, including the electric motor, batteries, and power electronics, are all sourced from proven suppliers with millions of miles of on-road validation. Combined with elegant integration and premier industry partnerships, the different configurations offer flexibility on proven, industry-adopted platforms. With different charging modes offered, including Level 3 DCFC, Lightning’s electric vehicles require no gasoline or diesel and can be charged from standard public or on-premise chargers.
- Electric motor – Our suppliers’ electric motors provide industry-leading power and torque density while reducing the amount of active materials, such as magnets and copper. Our electric motors all have millions of miles of on-road validation. In addition, electric motors have very few components that are subject to wear, leading to fewer required preventative maintenance tasks and lower overall service costs versus an internal combustion engine. They also generate much less heat and are far more efficient than diesel or gasoline engines.
- Batteries – We only use the highest quality batteries and battery management systems with years of proven on-road performance. Our batteries use precise active thermal management, meaning our power trains control battery temperatures to heat above or cool below environmental ambient temperature. This active thermal management translates to improved performance and longer battery life.
- DC Fast Charging (DCFC) – DCFC allows our vehicles to be charged to 80% in as few as 45 minutes (charge time depends on the platform, charging station output, initial state of charge and total kWh battery capacity). Currently, our vehicles can accept up to 80 kW charging power. All of our vehicles utilize the industry-standard charging connector: SAE J1772 CCS-1.
- AC charging – AC charging is generally slower than DC charging but is more readily available. Our vehicles can accept up to 13.2 kW AC charging rate.
- Seamless and professional integration – Our engineers work tirelessly to ensure our power trains are integrated into vehicles so that they function in an expected and intuitive fashion, requiring little to no additional driver training. With smooth, powerful and quiet propulsion, many customers have said that the Lightning ZEV driving experience is better than conventional vehicles.
- Lightning eMotors works with top vehicle upfitters in the industry to provide installation of our power trains – in some cases, the builders are the ones which assemble the conventional vehicle.
- Lightning Insights – Our team of fleet experts and data scientists access and study the real-time vehicle data coming from all Lightning ZEV vehicles. This data is analyzed and reported to you through a subscription to our Lightning Insights service, to provide a deep understanding of your fleet’s vehicle efficiency, driver behavior, route dynamics, and vehicle HVAC energy consumption.
We recommend connecting the vehicle to a charger when not in use, even when fully charged, to allow the thermal management system to bring the batteries to the optimal temperature range. This “pre-conditioning” is useful in cold or hot environments. If a vehicle is not in use for an extended period, it should be charged approximately every two weeks to keep the 12V battery charged.
Lightning ZEV power trains utilize three-phase permanent magnet electric traction motors. Peak motor power can range from 215 HP (160kW) to 241HP (180kW). Peak torque can range from 733 lb-ft (994 Nm) to 790 lb-ft (1071 Nm).
Data depends on the platform. Consult individual platforms on our website or a sales representative for each vehicle’s specifications.
All-electric range can vary depending on route or drive cycle, environmental conditions, vehicle or equipment configurations, and driver behavior. Use of auxiliary power systems such as HVAC will reduce range.
Lightning eMotors replaces the OEM’s stock instrument cluster with a digital display which provides all the information a driver needs, including a speedometer, battery state-of-charge, expected remaining range, and all tell-tale indicators. In most cases, the shift mechanism is replaced with electronic PRND buttons. Pretty much all other controls are completely familiar, such as the two pedals found in vehicles with automatic transmissions.
In most cases, all safety and driver-assist systems, if present in the host vehicle, operate as expected. This includes cruise control, ABS, traction control, lane-keep assist, collision avoidance and tire pressure indications.
The maximum speed is limited to approximately 68 mph (109 km/h) on most platforms. Generally, we don’t increase or decrease this limit.
Vehicles are offered in a number of different configurations, ranging from up to 130 miles (209 km) to up to 200 miles (322 km). Refer to our website for specific platform details.
All-electric range can vary depending on route or drive cycle, environmental conditions, vehicle or equipment configurations, and driver behavior.
As Lightning’s electric vehicles are all-electric and zero-emission—meaning no internal combustion engine—every device on the vehicles utilizes power from the batteries. As such, the use of auxiliary devices can impact vehicle range. Range impacts from auxiliary equipment are analyzed by our Lightning Insights platform and reported to you (via a Lightning Insights subscription). These impacts are difficult to estimate, as they depend on a number of variables, such as environmental temperature, vehicle route and duty cycle, terrain, and the use and duty cycle of auxiliary equipment. Cabin heat and air conditioning consume more energy than, say, lights and radio.
Additional weight (whether from passengers or cargo) will require more energy from the powertrain and will, therefore, negatively affect vehicle range. The precise impact varies by vehicle platform, driver behavior, and environmental conditions such as temperature and terrain.
Rapidly accelerating the EV or holding the EV at a high rate of speed will require more power from the powertrain and will, therefore, drain batteries faster, negatively affecting vehicle range. The manner in which drivers operate the vehicle—what we call Driver Behavior—can significantly increase or decrease the EV’s range. Lightning eMotors offers Driver Training courses to encourage driving practices that extend range and maximize efficiency.
Lightning’s EVs capture energy using regenerative braking, where the electric motor acts as a generator to slow the vehicle and recharge the batteries. Regenerative braking occurs both when you lift your foot from the accelerator and when you press the brake.
As with conventional vehicles, driver behavior can impact vehicle efficiency—both positively and negatively. Drivers who pay attention and utilize the systems in place can increase the range of the vehicle by maximizing regenerative braking and other good driving techniques. Lightning eMotors offers Driver Training courses to encourage driving practices that extend the range and maximize efficiency.
Considerations For Fleet Operations
We currently offer our power train systems and completed vehicles in the US and Canada. We are happy to discuss opportunities for business in additional countries and regions. Please contact our sales team to learn more.
We work with multiple EVSE partners covering all facets of charging options. In addition, we sell a range of Level 2 AC chargers and DC Fast chargers.
At this time, Vehicle-to-grid (V2G) is currently not available, but it is on our roadmap for future integration as the technology matures.
Your vehicle warranty will remain in place and be supplemented with the Lightning eMotors power train warranty.
A full comparison may be found here.
Lightning eMotors offers a 5-year, 60,000-mile warranty on the powertrain components. An extended warranty may be purchased.
Preventative maintenance for Lightning ZEV vehicles is minimal, consisting mainly of regular multi-point vehicle and component inspections. Since there is no internal combustion engine, there are fewer moving parts and less scheduled maintenance. Regular monitoring of the cooling system, fluid levels, suspension, brakes, and tires (as with a conventional vehicle), will lead to ideal performance. The vehicle’s regenerative braking system results in much lower wear on the conventional brake components. The full maintenance schedule is provided in the documentation that accompanies the vehicle.
As with any vehicle, component life and wear are dependent on drive cycle, route, driver behavior, environmental factors, and other variables. We expect the powertrain lifetime to meet or exceed the lifetime of a similarly driven internal combustion engine platform.
The main controller detects faults and malfunctions and determines the appropriate response. Depending on the fault, the vehicle may enter a state of reduced power and/or functionality, and in severe cases, may shut down completely. In addition, the fault condition is reported immediately over Lightning Insights to our service team in Loveland, CO, who will determine the appropriate action.
All of our vehicle models receive CARB certifications (executive orders) before they are commercially available.
At this time, all of our vehicles are compliant with the FTA’s Buy America requirements for US manufacture for vehicles used in public transportation. The majority of components (measured by cost) are US-sourced.
At this time, all of our vehicles are compliant with the FAA’s Buy American requirements for US manufacture for equipment operated at airports. The majority of components (measured by cost) are US-sourced.
Battery wear and degradation arises from a variety of factors and is a natural characteristic of lithium-ion batteries, just like your cell phone battery. Because temperature is one of the key impacts to life and health of batteries, we employ precise active thermal management to keep battery temperatures in the ideal range. The life of a battery cell is measured in “cycles,” or how many times it is depleted and then charged completely. In ideal temperature and power scenarios, high-quality NMC batteries will support around 2,000 full charge-discharge cycles without showing significant degradation. The impact of fast charging is relative to the power level of the charger and how large the battery system is, so while fast charging could have a negative effect on battery health, Lightning eMotors designs and sizes our battery capacities and other system features to optimize longevity.
At end of battery life customers can return batteries to Lightning for proper recycling or disposal.
Lightning eMotors offers a comprehensive range of EV charging stations which includes Level 2 AC charging and DC Fast charging.
Level 2 AC charging works by delivering AC (alternating current) electricity to the vehicle where it is converted to DC (direct current) electricity which charges the batteries. Level 2 refers to the AC voltage, which is 110V or 220V, and the charging power, which is between 6.6kW and 19.4kW. Our vehicles can accept AC charging power up to 13.2kW.
DC Fast Charge stations convert the site’s AC electricity to DC, which is delivered to the vehicle, where it directly charges the batteries. DC Fast Charge can charge a vehicle more quickly than Level 2 AC charging, with rates up to 200kW and beyond. Our vehicles can generally accept DC charging power up to 80kW.
The charge time depends on several things, including the state of charge (SoC) of the batteries before charging begins. If the vehicle was driven to “empty”, then a rough estimate of the charging time is:
80% of the nominal capacity of all the batteries
the charging rate of the charging station
For example, a Lightning ZEV3 van with two 40kWh batteries (a total of 80kWh), being charged with a 7.2kW Level 2 AC charger might take:
80 x 0.8 / 7.2 = 8.9 hours
If using a 50kW DC Fast Charge station, charging would take:
80 x 0.8 / 50 = 1.3 hours
In reality, charging times will be somewhat longer because the charging rate reduces as the batteries reach full charge. In addition, if the vehicle’s heating or AC is running, or if the vehicle’s battery thermal management system is running at high power, charging will take longer.
Level 2 AC charging stations use SAE J1772 standard connectors to the vehicle. DC Fast Charge stations offer SAE J1772 CCS Type 1 Combo, or CHAdeMO, or both. Our vehicles are compatible with SAE J1772 CCS Type 1 Combo, and are not compatible with CHAdeMO. Tesla Superchargers use the proprietary NACS connector, which is not compatible with our vehicles.
All installations should be performed by certified installers, following local code and permit requirements. Installing a Level 2 AC charging station is usually straight forward, requiring a single phase of 208/240VAC and a sufficiently rated circuit and breaker. Installing the higher-power DC Fast Charge stations usually requires three-phase provision. This is likely to require an appropriate permit and may require additional capacity from the electrical utility.
Yes. A combined RFID / credit card reader is a standard feature on some of our charging stations and optional on all of the others.
Many of our charging stations support Ethernet network connection. 3G/4G and/or Wi-Fi are available as options.
Most of our chargers support OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol). Lightning Insights includes charger management software which can report on energy usage and charger utilization, while also offering some control of charging stations, e.g. for scheduled charging.
The US Federal government has released funds for charging infrastructure through the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition, the FTA Low/No Emissions Bus program and EPA Clean School Bus Programs also include provisions for charging. Some states or local jurisdictions offer vouchers or other financial incentives for purchasing and/or installing charging stations. Finally, some utility companies also offer programs for subsidizing or waiving the cost of charging stations.
Contact a sales representative for vehicle price ranges.
Federal funding through several major programs can provide significant relief when purchasing electric commercial vehicles. Funding incentives also exist in some US states and localities. Contact our voucher and incentive experts for more information on funding available in your area.
Lightning eMotors can facilitate financing options including lease, rental and third party financing. Please speak to your sales representative for more information.