First Priority Group getting jump on competition for electrified emergency specialty vehicles

Flanders-based company will partner with ROUSH CleanTech on pilot program in 2022, expected commercial release in 2023

In a partnership that may speed up the inevitable implementation of electrified emergency specialty vehicles, Flanders-based First Priority Group will announce Monday that it is partnering with ROUSH CleanTech on a pilot program that will produce a half-dozen such vehicles in 2022, ROI-NJ has learned.

Alex Cherepakhov, CEO of First Priority Group, said he is confident the pilot program will put the pair on pace to a wider commercial deployment in 2023. Believed to be the only group working on such a project, the partners could wind up years ahead of the competition, Cherepakhov said — in an industry that is coming quickly.

“This teams up two companies that are absolute professionals in their field,” he told ROI-NJ. “They are professionals at engineering solutions and do a great job creating an electrified platform that is as robust as any. And I think we’re as good as anyone in the country at upfitting emergency specialty vehicles.

“This is two industry leaders getting together to create a path for emergency vehicle electrification.”

Todd Mouw, president of Livonia, Michigan-based ROUSH CleanTech, said the partnership makes sense on a number of levels.

“ROUSH CleanTech and First Priority Group share the same goals of reducing costs for specialized fleets and creating heathier communities in the areas they operate,” he said. “This partnership is a natural fit for two innovative companies that are leading the emergency response vehicle industry toward clean transportation solutions.”

With approximately 3 million law enforcement, fire and emergency medical service first responders operating more than 600,000 emergency vehicles in the country, the program could help the two companies get a big head start in the industry.

Here’s how the partnership will work:

ROUSH CleanTech, a longtime leader in electrified chassis, has deployed more than 37,000 advanced clean technology vehicles since 2010. Last year, it launched an all-electric Ford F-650 truck chassis, backed by decades of e-mobility engineering expertise from parent company Roush.

These vehicles will make their way to First Priority Group, which has been upfitting custom vehicle solutions for more than 20 years, helping to deploy thousands of emergency and specialized vehicles across the country.

FPG, which has been involved in delivery and service of electric vehicles since 2015, recently launched a new division, FPG Electrified, which is focused on electrification of light- and medium-duty emergency and specialty vehicles and products. This division will allow FPG to combine its experience in emergency vehicle upfitting with its vehicle electrification expertise.

Cherepakhov said that experience, plus First Priority Group’s longstanding relationships building command centers for first responders, will be a differentiator.

“We already work on many of their vehicles every day,” he said. “We know what they need. We understand the use profile and we understand how long they need to be able to operate.”

“FPG’s team is ready to support its fleet customers with an end-to-end solution, from grant research to fleet assessment through complete project management. Through our forward-thinking partnership with ROUSH CleanTech, we can provide these fleets with specialized, robust vehicles that meet the high demand for medical and emergency response and their distinct operational requirements.”

Cherepakhov said the push toward electrified emergency vehicles is coming, slowly but surely.

“We have continued to keep an eye on this because chassis are going electric, no question about it,” he said. “Whether it’s five years, 10 years or 15 years, chassis are going electric.

“Emergency vehicle fleets need to start having discussions around how they are going to deal with the fact that the vehicles they are used to buying now, which are diesel trucks, are going to end up being electric.”