You Can Now Buy An Electric Ambulance

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Electric police cars have popped up from time to time for years, as have electric taxis and even electric hearses. However, an electric ambulance is a truly rare bird. Today, Lightning eMotors and REV Group, Inc. announced that they have partnered to change that.

The ambulance is based on the Class 3 Lightning Electric Transit Van, which was just launched in December, but it is co-developed by the two partner commercial vehicle manufacturers — Lightning eMotors and REV Group subsidiary Leader Emergency Vehicles.

Unlike some electric models (I won’t name names), the electric ambulance — which apparently doesn’t have a name (may I suggest embulance? or eambulance? … never mind) — will be delivered to initial customers by the end of 2021.

Before I get too far in misleading people with my headline above, I should clarify that you and I probably can’t just buy the ambulance. (Right?) It is for government agencies, municipalities, commercial operators, hospitals, and non-profit organizations that actually need ambulances. (I assume you have to have a special permit or license to buy an ambulance, but I admit I’ve never thought about it before and don’t feel compelled enough to research such an obscure topic at the moment.)

Image courtesy of REV Group.

Naturally, all vehicles need to electrify, ambulances included, so this is great news. Also, it seems like a fairly easy class to electrify. Ambulances probably spend a very large portion of the day parked, and their mostly locked into certain jurisdictions that limit how far they are going to drive one a single trip. They’re not going to go running a variety of errands or picking up multiple passengers requiring them to zig-zag the city. The task seems like it must be clear: Point A to Point B as fast as possible, and then back to Point A as fast as possible. Then the sit and charge for several hours (or days). I’ve wondered before why we don’t see more electric ambulances, especially with so many electric buses out there that have to drive so many more miles. Let’s hope this product gets popular quick and we have some stories to report about its broad adoption. (Here’s to dreams.)

“Electrification is reaching all different types of fleet vehicles, and ambulances are a logical next step,” said Tim Reeser, CEO of Lightning eMotors. “These zero-emission vehicles are powerful, smooth, and quiet, and drivers will love them. As a fully electric model, they have no tailpipe emissions, so it’s a healthier choice for the air you breathe as well.”

Good point. Electric ambulances help keep people out of ambulances!

“REV Group’s vision is our continuous pursuit to improve the quality of life for our customers and communities,” said Rod Rushing, President and CEO of REV Group. “This pursuit includes our commitment to investing in innovative technology and leading in the electrification of commercial vehicles.”

Here are some more details on the Lightning Electric Transit Van underlying the ambulance, which is the 4th generation of the Lightning Electric Transit Van from Lightning eMotors:

  • 105 kWh of battery capacity
  • up to ~170 miles of range (a significant increase over the 3rd generation Lightning Electric Transit Van’s 120 miles of range, and probably a big part of the reason this van was now deemed adequate for use as an ambulance)
  • 10,360 lb gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
  • 160 kW (equivalent 215 horsepower)
  • 994 Nm (733 lb-ft) of torque
  • 60 miles of range can be added in 30 minutes of charge time using a DC fast charger (using a standard SAE J1172 CCS-1 Combo charging port)
  • 61 MPGe (versus 13 MPG for the gasoline version of such a van) — which is “the highest CARB dynamometer-certified efficiency rating for any Class 3 vehicle currently in the market.”

At the time this 4th generation Class 3 electric van was launched in December, Lightning eMotors CEO Tim Reeser said, “Used extensively by commercial and government fleets, Class 3 vehicles, such as passenger vans, cargo vans and ambulances, are ripe for electrification.” Hmm, it’s almost like he knew what was coming! He also said, “We are the only manufacturer to offer a CARB-certified* electric van in the Class 3 segment. As a result, we’ve sold more all-electric commercial EVs than any other vehicle manufacturer in North America to date. The feedback from our customers over the last three years has been that they love the platform and its powerful, smooth and quiet ride, as well as the intuitive driving experience and readily available service and spare parts. This new battery technology and other upgrades give them the range, power and features at the price they need to scale up their electric fleets.” There’s a solid chance the first electric ambulance will be delivered to a jurisdiction in California. Any guesses which one? Perhaps we should set up a bingo game for orders.

The electric ambulance chassis will be produced by Lightning eMotors in Loveland, Colorado, and then the rest of the vehicle will be put together at a Leader factory in South El Monte, California.

Lightning is ramping up production capacity at its Colorado facility this year. It aims to reach a production capacity of 1,000 electric commercial EVs per year by the end of 2021, and its mid-term goal is to reach a production capacity of 20,000 vehicles per year by 2025.

In 2019, CleanTechnica actually toured that Loveland facility. For a closer look, see Kyle Field’s piece: “Pulling Back The Curtain At Electric Powertrain Builder Lightning Systems.”

For some other recent Lightning eMotors news, see the following:

Long before it was called Lightning eMotors, the company went by the name Lightning Systems. Scroll through those archives for a much deeper look at the company and its offerings. Our coverage goes back to October 2017, when it started taking pre-orders for its initial Class 3 electric transit van. Deliveries then began in April of 2018. In June of 2018, it boosted the range of the van from 50 or 100 miles (initial versions) to a maximum of 150 miles. In 2020, the company expanded into EV charging solutions, Class 6 electric trucks, and electric motorcoaches.

*CARB = California Air Resources Board.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

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