Lightning Developing Exhaust-Free Food Trucks

May 02, 2019 by John O'Dell

Love food truck cuisine but hate the lingering stench of exhaust that seems to trail the brightly colored vans wherever they go?

Lightning Systems says it has an answer: the all-electric food van.

The Loveland, Colo., company has launched a new battery-electric powertrain designed for the Ford F-59 chassis that’s used extensively for delivery and food trucks.

An established electric powertrain developer, Lightning already has four systems for a variety of Class 3-6 Ford and Chevrolet vans and trucks as well as for Class 7 and 8 transit buses. The F-59 system is its fifth and can be used for all variants of the Class 5 Ford chassis.


On the downside, the F-59 system isn’t yet designed to permit food truck operators to siphon off electrical power to run their cooking equipment. That could drain too much juice and make it difficult for a food van to make its daily rounds.

So they’ll still be cooking with gas and using gasoline or diesel to run their generators for outdoor lighting, refrigerators and any electric ovens or grills.

But a power takeoff system to permit all-electric cooking is in development, Bonnie Trowbridge, Lightning’s marketing director, told

In any event, operators can save money on fuel and maintenance by using an electrically powered van instead of the standard gasoline-fueled model, and that adds up, she said.


They’ll also be providing a zero-emissions experience for their drivers and their customers – whether foodies gathered around a bulgogi taco truck or retail store and warehouse workers accepting a load of goods from a supplier.

Lightning’s F-59 powertrain comes in two range designations – 80 miles with a 96-kWh, lithium-ion battery pack, or 110 miles with a 128-kWh pack. Output from the electric motor, in either case, is rated at 241 horsepower and 790-pound-feet of torque.

The powertrains are shipped by Lightning to qualified Ford vehicle upfitters for installation at the same time the van bodies are fitted to the chassis. The system can be fitted to new or used F-59 chassis, and Lightening provides a five-year/60,000-mile warranty.

The battery-electric powertrain adds ”substantially” to the initial cost of a van, but fuel and maintenance savings, along with sometimes hefty incentives offered in some states for commercial electric vehicle purchases, can erase the difference in as little as two years, Trowbridge said.

John O'Dell August 27, 2018
Electric powertrain developer Lightning Systems said it received an order for 50 of its new Class 6 battery-electric model from commercial Zeem Solutions.

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