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Lightning eMotors launches online Fleet Planner solution

Digital service identifies operating costs, carbon reductions, fleet recommendations

Electric Class 3 cargo vans from Lightning eMotors are lined up and ready to make deliveries (Photo: Lightning eMotors)

Both federal and state lawmakers are now pushing electric vehicle adoption for not just commuters and soccer moms but also for delivery fleets

However, while switching to a passenger EV can be as simple as selling your old car and buying a new one, the calculus is much more complex when it comes to electrifying an entire network of trucks, vans and other commercial vehicles.

Lightning eMotors (NYSE: ZEV) on Thursday released a new product designed to address this problem. The EV fleet provider’s new Fleet Planner recommends each operator the best Lightning vehicle for their network and provides analytics on the operating costs, carbon emissions reductions, charge rates and other information related to switching to that vehicle.

The free digital solution gives recommendations based on information that fleet operators input themselves, including characteristics like route distance, payload and number of passengers.

“One of the challenges facing fleets seeking to electrify is a lack of reliable information about how commercial EVs will perform under various conditions and how big an impact they will have on key metrics such as operating cost and carbon reduction,” said Nick Bettis, vice president of marketing and sales operations at Lightning eMotors. 

Operators can get as granular or as specific as they want with Fleet Planner. Including fleet type (i.e. passenger versus cargo) is a must, but from there managers can input any number of data points like terrain type, average weather conditions, dwell time, shift duration or driver behavior — and the list goes on and on.


Then the magic happens. Lightning feeds that information into its proprietary telematics system, which spits out vehicle recommendations that best meet the operator’s needs. Users can then compare each Lightning EV’s cost of ownership, carbon emissions and efficiency against an equivalent gas-powered vehicle and scale those projections across their entire fleet.


Watch: Can infrastructure keep pace with the demand of electric trucks?


“We believe the ability to compare operating costs with equivalent ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles will be an eye-opening look into the benefits of an EV fleet,” Bettis said.

Lightning has been providing zero emissions vehicle solutions for U.S. fleets since 2018, providing both the vehicles and connected technology and infrastructure needed to run a fully electric fleet.

While delivery fleets are a large focus for the firm, its array of vehicles is diverse. Lightning manufactures Class 3 cargo and passenger vans, Class 4 and 5 cargo vans, Class 6 work trucks and even electric school buses.

The company’s customers include some big names in the delivery space like General Motors and Canada’s GoBolt, one of the few companies that already deploys an all-electric fleet. But Fleet Planner is designed to get even more operators on the bandwagon with its free recommendations and insights, which could drive adoption.

“The level of detail fleet managers can see in our Fleet Planner is unprecedented in the market,” said Brandon McNeil, vice president of Lightning Energy, the company’s charging unit, and Lightning Insights, its telematics arm. 

“At Lightning, we have been putting Class 3-7 zero-emission, fully-electric fleet vehicles on the roads since 2018 and have amassed over 3,000,000 EV miles. We have leveraged this arsenal of real-world data in Fleet Planner, an easy-to-use tool that will be extremely compelling and useful for fleet managers who are considering fleet electrification.”

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack is a staff writer for FreightWaves and Modern Shipper covering topics like last mile delivery and e-commerce fulfillment. He studied at Northwestern University, majoring in journalism with a certificate in integrated marketing communications. Previously, Jack has written for Backpacker Magazine and enjoys travel, the outdoors, and all things basketball.