According to the company, the shuttle buses are based on the GM-based Lightning ZEV4 platform and feature 120 kWh of thermally-managed Proterra battery packs. These batteries provide a range of up to 130 miles and support Level 2 AC and DC fast charging for the Nashville-based university.
Additionally, the buses are built on a 159-inch wheelbase and have been upfitted with Forest River shuttle bus bodies capable of carrying 14 passengers each. The delivery and deployment of these zero-emission shuttle buses are expected to take place in the second quarter of this year.
“It is an honor for us to be a chosen fleet electrification provider as they transform their intercampus student transportation to zero-emission, all-electric platforms,” said Jeremy Hiler, Sales Director, Eastern U.S. at Lightning eMotors. “We are confident drivers, passengers and fleet managers will appreciate the electric performance, quiet ride and reduced maintenance, and of course, the environmental benefits of the Lightning ZEV4.”
The university is leasing the initial pilot run of six vehicles from Forest River dealer Carpenter Bus Sales. Electrada, a Vanderbilt partner, will support the charging infrastructure. The shuttles will also be equipped with Lightning eMotors’ telematics softwareLightning Insights, which offers real-time telematics and charge management. The software seamlessly integrates with Electrada’s charging infrastructure through an API.
“Vanderbilt is committed to lowering its carbon footprint, so switching to electric vehicles in our shuttle fleet is a top priority,” said Lindsey Ganson, Assistant Director of Mobility at Vanderbilt University. “We’re so excited to have our Lightning ZEV4 shuttles in action before the fall semester begins, and we are looking forward to working with Lightning.”
Vanderbilt recently launched the 35-MW Vanderbilt I Solar Farm in Bedford County, Tennessee. The project is expected to offset a significant portion of the university’s greenhouse gas emissions produced indirectly from electricity bought from TVA and Nashville Electric Service. Vanderbilt expects the remaining emissions to be mitigated by a planned second solar farm in Moore County, Tennessee.
The university has also achieved carbon neutrality through renewable energy initiatives and a partnership with Climate Vault. To further reduce its carbon footprint, Vanderbilt has partnered with Clearloop to invest in additional solar energy projects, with the first project located in Batesville, Mississippi.