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DHL Express ups order for Lightning eMotors’ electric Transit vans

Last-mile delivery company will take delivery of an additional 89 electric Ford vans this year

A successful trial of nine Lightning eMotors electric Ford Transit vans has led DHL Express to announce it will deploy an additional 89 vehicles in New York and California this year.

The Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) Transit 350HD Class 3 vans are equipped with Lightning’s zero-emission system and capable of achieving 61 miles per gallon equivalent, compared to 13 miles per gallon for a similar gas-powered van, Lightning said. They include proprietary telematics and analytics software, which will aid with route optimization, driver training and vehicle efficiencies, the company added.

“We’re aiming to improve the lives of people where they live and work, using clean pickup and delivery solutions – such as electric vehicles and cargo cycles – for our first- and last-mile services,” said DHL Express U.S. CEO Greg Hewitt. “With the successful deployment of the first nine pilot vehicles, we are excited to expand our electric delivery van footprint and continue to drive forward our corporate road map to decarbonization.”

DHL Express has an extensive alternative-power fleet, including fully electric, hybrid-electric and clean diesel vehicles as well as low-power electric-assist e-cargo cycles. It is also piloting four Class 8 tractors in the Los Angeles market.

“These new electric vans are designed to better serve DHL customers and help couriers to more efficiently and effectively deliver packages,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “At the same time, they are helping DHL to meet its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve urban air quality, as well as reduce noise on the streets.

The last-mile delivery space is quickly becoming a competitive environment for electric vehicle makers in all sizes. Three companies in the space, including Lightning eMotors, have either gone public recently or are going public through special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC). Lightning eMotors has a vote set for April 21 on its proposed SPAC with GigCapital3 Inc. (NYSE: GIK).

Arrival (NASDAQ: ARVL) went public this week on the NASDAQ stock exchange after merging with CIIG Merger Corp. The U.K. company said it would build its electric vans at a microfactory in North Carolina. Arrival has an order for 10,000 vehicles from United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS). 

SPAC-backed Class 1 delivery van startup Electric Last Mile Systems (ELMS) said it has 45,000 nonbinding preorders for its urban delivery Class 1 commercial electric vehicle.

It’s not just upstarts, though, that are entering the space. Ford’s biggest competitor, General Motors (NYSE: GM), spun out its own commercial electric van company, BrightDrop, earlier this year.

Ford is also introducing an all-electric Transit van, which is a smaller Class 2 model, for the 2022 model year. The E-Transit, with a base price of $45,000, will come with an estimated range of 126 miles for its low-roof cargo van model. 

The E-Transit’s electric motor offers 266 horsepower/198 kilowatts of power and 317 pounds-feet of torque across all eight configurations (three roof heights, three lengths, chassis cab and cutaway models). Battery capacity is 67 kilowatt-hours. Its motor can plug into a 120-volt outlet for slow charging or a 240-volt outlet for faster charging. On a 115-plus-kilowatt DC fast charger, E-Transit cargo van low-roof models can achieve approximately 30 miles of range in 10 minutes and approximately 45 miles of range in 15 minutes. When plugged into a 240-volt outlet, E-Transit cargo van low-roof models achieve approximately 10 miles per charging hour using the Ford Mobile Charger. Employing a Ford Connected Charge Station brings the number up to approximately 15 miles per charging hour.

Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS) has received a lot of attention for its electric van, even as the company continues to struggle to ramp up production. FreightWaves reported on March 1 that Workhorse had produced just seven trucks in the fourth quarter and continued to be plagued by supply chain issues.

“We are facing various supply chain challenges, both internal and external,” CEO Duane Hughes said on the company’s Q4 earnings call. “Given our backlog, we cannot sacrifice future build volume for current-year production. Scaling up manufacturing properly has to take precedence.”

Workhorse has orders in place for 6,320 units for Canada’s Pride Group and 900 vans for UPS, which were first ordered in 2018.

Lightning’s products also include all-electric vehicles based on the Ford E-450 shuttle bus and cutaway models, Ford F-53/59, Ford F-550 cargo trucks and buses, GM, Isuzu and Hino Class 6 trucks. A new all-electric repower for motor coaches also is available, along with repower powertrains for 30-foot, 35-foot and 40-foot transit buses.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Brian Straight.

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight leads FreightWaves' Modern Shipper brand as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler. You can reach him at