Lightning eMotors is adding production capacity and space to meet the growing demand for electric vehicle fleets. The company is now adding another 107,000 square feet for a total of 231,000 square feet of space for its operations.
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The Colorado-based company provides complete electrification solutions for commercial fleets, ranging from Class 3 cargo and passenger vans to Class 6 work trucks, Class 7 city buses, and Class 8 motor coaches.
Over the past 12 months, demand for zero-emission commercial vehicles in the USA has exploded, not least due to legislative support for the decarbonisation of the sector such as the Californian Advanced Clean Trucks scheme, requiring every new commercial utility vehicle in the state to be emission-free by 2045. Support for a zero-emission transport sector just saw another increase this week as the incoming President Joe Biden increased emission restrictions and support for electric vehicles.
At the company’s headquarters in the former Hewlett-Packard/Agilent in southwest Loveland, Colorado, Lightning has first right of acceptance on more than 500,000 square feet of additional manufacturing space if it determines customer demand requires the additional space.
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“The additional space helps us to accommodate the increased number of electric van and truck projects that are contracted for 2021, as well as our work on charging infrastructure for fleets and electric motorcoach repowers,” said Keith Lehmeier, director of research and development for Lightning eMotors. “Importantly, the expansion will enable our team to work both faster and smarter, with more testing equipment and automation. As we hire engineers, it gives us room to have top-notch facilities for them to work.”
In 2020, the company ramped up production by more than 600 per cent and continues to increase production as its orders increase. The company also recently doubled its workforce and expects to double it again this year.
As a part of the expansion, Lightning eMotors is adding technology and automation at the location that includes CNC laser cutting and powder-coating equipment. “These additions to our in-house production capabilities allow us to produce all of our own framework inhouse, better enabling us to control quality, accelerate development and production, and reduce costs,” Lehmeier said. “Combined, the expansion and new equipment ensures that we’re ready for continually increasing demand and the growth of the business.”
Lightning eMotors will indeed have to expand at a rapid pace to keep up with demand. Just last week Lightning announced an order from ABC Companies for a total value of $45 million. This will buy 200 additional electric vehicles for the company fleet, including everything from Class 3 Transit passenger wagons to motorcoaches with fully electric powertrain systems.
Update 26 February 2022:
Lightning eMotors has completed the expansion of its manufacturing campus in Loveland, Colorado by 102,000 square feet to a total of over 226,000 square feet. Lightning eMotors’ retooled and expanded manufacturing operations will increase the production capacity up to 1,500 complete electric vehicles and powertrain systems annually by the end of 2022. This means the company is on track with its previously announced plan to produce up to 20,000 vehicles and powertrain systems by 2025.
Lightning eMotors’ CEO Tim Reeser says: “This expansion at our headquarters here in Loveland not only helps us increase our production capacity – but the additional tooling and automation enables our technicians to do their jobs more safely, more efficiently, and with a focus on quality and consistency.”
According to the company, the plant expansion includes the addition of collaborative robots (Cobots) that are to assist technicians with fabrication and welding processes. The plant will also use projected augmented reality (AR) software which the company says will transform the manual assembly and manufacturing processes. With this technology, the projected AR platform projects virtual step-by-step work instructions projected onto employee’s work surfaces. Lightning eMotors says that this technology and information will improve both quality and productivity.
Lightning is also renovating an additional 3,700 square feet on the campus to become Lightning’s new vehicle research and development annexe and battery testing centre. This will include a commercial vehicle rated dynamometer and advanced battery testing equipment.
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