NOVI, MI — Companies in Colorado and Michigan announced they’ve developed an electric drive system that can be added to Ford Transit van models.
Lightning Systems (Loveland, CO) and New Eagle (Ann Arbor, MI) said they worked together on a system being marketed under the name LightningElectric. It is aimed at corporate fleets, where drivers run designated routes.
Lightning Electric will be made available to customers through Ford’s Qualified Vehicle Modifer (QVM) program. The Dearborn, MI-based automaker announced in March it was extending that program to include modifications to electric and hybrid power. That part of the program is called eQVM.
“We are a fleet focused group,” Tim Reeser, CEO and co-founder of Lightning Systems, said at a press conference at the Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Conference in Novi, MI. “They buy differently than individual customers. They think differently than individual customers.”
New Eagle, a producer of control systems and software, initially developed the system. “We saw an opportunity with the Transit,” Richard Swortzel, president of New Eagle, said at the press conference. “We took it to Ford.”
New Eagle joined with Lightning Systems to commercialize the system. LightningElectric has a range of up to 125 miles (201 kilometers) and a payload of up to 3500 lb (1588 kg). Transits equipped with Lightning Electric will be covered under Ford warranties.
Many corporate fleets have vehicles that run only 35 miles (56 kg) a day, Reeser said. “We think fleets are the perfect market” for electric-drive systems, he said.
Conversions of standard Ford Transits to the electric-drive system are to be performed by “upfitters” and dealers that are part of Ford’s QMV program. Lightning Electric is available for Ford Transit passenger wagon, van, cutaway and chassis cab models.
Lighnting Systems expects “we will have product on the road with customers” in the first quarter of 2018, Reeser said.