Highland Electric Transportation, a US startup providing turnkey zero-emission fleet solutions for school districts and fleet managers, has raised $253 million of corporate equity to accelerate its growth.
Highland aims to reduce the complexity of going electric for fleet operators by providing customers a full-service solution of electric vehicles that are owned, powered, and maintained by the company.
This round of fimancing for the company was led by Vision Ridge Partners with participation by Fontinalis Partners and existing investors. In annoucing this investment round, Highland made a point of noting that its investor Fontinalis Partners was co-founded by Bill Ford, Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company.
The company is expecting a massive uptake of electric fleets with both the current push for cleaner air, especially around schools, as well as governmental policies both restricting emissions and supporting EV purchase and charging infrastructure, recently boosted in the USA.
The young US-Amercian company say that the all-inclusive transportation-as-a-service model is the simple and cost-effective way for districts to transition their fleets. The company utilises technology solutions so their vehicles have optimal charging and grid services. Highland says they are helping customers improve energy efficiency and resiliency.
This is exactly the kind of approach advocated by EV100 with their latest report on EVs in corporate fleets, saying that leasing companies, for example, do well to offer holistic packages that include energy provision and charging services along with the vehicle.
Judging from the company’s website, it seems that one of the company’s main selling points is to offer the use of fleet vehicles with electric vehicles in all-inclusive packages within the existing budgets of the fleet operators.
Although Highland’s main focus so far has been the decarbonisation of school bus services, the startup headquartered in Hamilton, Massachusetts plans to expand its service to help electrify entire government fleets. In a press release, Highland said they are currently “working on projects to electrify thousands of medium-duty vehicles in government fleets, which makes Highland among the biggest electric fleet owners.”
Chris Cheever, Founder and Partner at Fontinalis says “My partners and I believe millions of fleet vehicles will electrify,”adding that “Highland is well positioned to help customers make it happen and our firm is excited to help the Company become a leader in its industry.”
Highlander says that both they and their customers will most certainly be benefitting from government initiatives that accelerate fleet electrification. Among others, new legislation in the US aimed at decarbonising fleets includes President Biden’s executive order to electrify 645,000 Federal government vehicles, as well as Build Back Better policy, which provides incentives to electrify all 500,000 municipally-operated school buses in the United States. This of course does not just stay on the federal level. State governments are also supporting the switch to electric vehicles. Here, Highland gives the example, that Maryland now offers grants for zero-emission school buses. On the infrastructure front, the year 2020 saw the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 2222 create the nationwide ability to connect vehicle batteries to the electricity grid. Highland says it is selling battery services into ISO-NE and will soon provide similar services to the PJM Energy Market.
As to where the vehicles are coming from, Highland only says that it owns and operates American-made electric vehicles manufactured by North Carolina-headquartered Thomas Built Buses and powered by California-headquartered Proterra. Highland notes that Proterra has announced its plan to go public by merging with Arclight Clean Transition Corp.
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