Lightning eMotors ZEV3 electric van first to be Altoona certified, now qualifies for federal and state grants

Commercial electrification specialist Lightning eMotors is celebrating its latest company feat in the form of Altoona testing certification for its ZEV3 battery electric passenger van. By receiving certification of granular testing by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the ZEV3 becomes the first Class 3 battery electric van to pass Altoona, meaning its purchases can now qualify for grants at both the federal and state level.

Lightning eMotors ($ZEV) designs, engineers, customizes, and manufactures a variety of EVs to support a growing array of needs for fleet customers. In addition to providing specialized electric conversions of existing platforms developed by other OEMs like Ford and GM, it has been offering its customers purpose-built EVs on its own proprietary platform since early 2022.

In addition to building EVs, Lightning eMotors has also begun exploring in other EV-adjacent technologies, like autonomous capabilities, wireless EV charging, and bolstered charging infrastructure under its Lightning Mobile arm.

Lightning’s ZEV4 passenger bus previously received Altoona testing certification from the FTA, a requirement in order for any electric bus to qualify for funds from federal and state governments participating in the FTA’s Low and No Emissions Grant program. The program consists of $4 billion in grant funding available over the next four years for the purchase or lease of zero emission transit buses like the ZEV4.

Today, Lightning eMotors announced that its all-electric ZEV3 passenger van has also become Altoona certified and will join the ZEV4 as a grant qualified transit vehicle.

Lightning electric van
The ZEV3 all-electric passenger van / Source: Lightning eMotors

Lightning eMotors’ electric van finds additional success

Lightning eMotors explained how rigorous the Altoona testing process was in order to ensure its electric vans can withstand the daily usage they will have to endure in transporting passengers around their respective cities.

Altoona certification consists of a standardized set of procedures that measure the vehicle’s maintainability, reliability, safety, performance, structural integrity, and noise pollution. Since the ZEV is also a battery electric vehicle, its testing process also included range and efficiency assessments. Lightning eMotors’ vice president of marketing and sales operations Nick Bettis spoke:

Fleet managers look to Altoona testing to ensure the vehicles they purchase are tested to meet the demands of transit usage for many years and thousands of miles. This certification confirms our ZEV3 passenger van can withstand the harshest of punishment and will keep occupants safe.

Transit agencies are becoming more interested in micro-transit and battery-electric vehicle solutions to supplement traditional buses. This shift has created the need for smaller vehicles to complete Altoona testing and become available. Our ZEV3 platform has long been one of our most popular with commercial fleet operators. Now, with Altoona testing certification, transit fleet managers can be confident the Lightning ZEV3 provides the durability needed for transit use and is eligible for FTA grants.

The ZEV3 is built upon a Ford Transit 350HD chassis which has been fully electrified to deliver up to 200 miles of range (depending on configuration) on a single charge; each Lightning electric van comes standard with both Level 2 AC charging and DC fast charge capabilities.

Lightning eMotors states it has delivered over 300 ZEV3 vans to date that have combined for over 3.3 million real world accumulated miles. With federal and state grants now available for new ZEV3 purchases, we’d expect to see that sales number grow through 2023.

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