In June 2013, Lightning Hybrids announced a partnership with National Fleet Hybrids, marking the newly-formed company as the first certified dealer of our hydraulic hybrid system. National Fleet Hybrids is a family-owned dealer solely focused on the sales and distribution of Lightning Hybrids’ innovative technologies. The company is currently making great strides with key target customers and expanding our sales footprint and distribution/service infrastructure.
National Fleet Hybrids is an offshoot of National Van Builders, Inc., which specializes in outfitting and customizing mobility and transit vans/buses. Glen Perlman, along with his father and brother, acquired National Van Builders in 2002; the company has remained family-owned and -operated ever since. National Van Builders manufactures and assembles commercial accessible vans, multi-passenger shuttle vans, executive transporters, and other specialty vehicles for fleets. To accomplish this, the company takes OEM vehicles and customizes them with tailored interiors, wheelchair lifts, raised roofs, and other specialized structural upgrades or vehicle components for a number of diverse applications.
National Van Builders is the third largest mobility retrofitter in the Ford motor pool and is certified in the Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier (QVM) program. They are also qualified to work with GM chassis and the Mercedes Sprinter, however a good portion of National Van Builders’ manufacturing work concentrates on Ford’s Econoline (E-Class) vans and trucks.
In 2012, with an eye toward finding new technologies that add value to National Van’s vehicles and the global need to adopt innovative fuel-saving systems, Glen began to explore retrofit-able, parallel-drive hybrid technologies for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. A member of his sales team brought to Glen’s attention Lightning Hybrids and our hydraulic hybrid systems; he was intrigued by the power, efficiency, and retrofit-ability hydraulic hybrids offer over hybrid electrics. Around the same time, Ford announced that it would be replacing the Econoline class with the European-designed Transit model—which comes standard with a raised roof. It is still uncertain how much work National Van will be responsible for on the Transit model through the QVM program. So Glen came looking for a new solution that National Van could offer to their customers.
After perusing our website, several discussions with LH staff, and a trip to Loveland to see our facilities and meet our team, Glen decided that the best course of action was to start a new company—National Fleet Hybrids—to operate as a dealer, distributor, and installer of Lightning Hybrids’ systems. “I believe in the product and people. The technology has great potential and is a great fit with our business model,” explains Glen, National Fleet Hybrids’ Founder and President (and president of National Van).
By partnering with Lightning Hybrids, National Fleet Hybrids attained exclusive rights to distribute, install, and provide parts and service to fleets in certain East Coast territories, including Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Maine. Lightning Hybrids gained a vetted and able dealer, distributor, installer, and parts/service provider that will bring our technology to fleets in New England and along the Eastern seaboard, greatly expanding our market and scalability. In addition, National Fleet Hybrids has the manufacturing facilities and customer base to accommodate sales and installations at production volumes.
National Fleet Hybrids serves fleet owners/operators as well as regional transportation organizations. Contracted by cities, universities, and the State of Massachusetts—which currently has grant funding available to fleets that funds up to $20,000 of the cost of our system—National Fleet Hybrids customers have fleets ranging in size from 1 to 100 vehicles. Their applications range from medical transport and airport/hotel shuttles to limousine service and more specialized forms of people carrying.
So where does the future lie for National Fleet Hybrids and our partnership? “The biggest goal is to continue to promote the LH brand and product. I want to get units on the road,” says Glen. “The $20,000 grant from the State of Massachusetts is a wonderful way for East Coast fleets to try our system with mitigated risk, and National Fleet Hybrids can install a system near most fleet headquarters.”