Are Electric Ambulances Coming to America?

a yellow ambulance with a ford transit can sits in a garage
Is America Ready for Electric Ambulances?London Ambulance Service
  • The city of London has taken delivery of the first batch of battery-electric Ford Transit ambulances built and converted by Germany-based specialist WAS.

  • The first of the ambulances began its 12-hour shift on New Year's Eve in the city, with the fleet designed to be charged at hospital locations and its garage station.

  • WAS offers ambulances based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis as well, featuring a maximum range of 124 miles.

More than a few municipalities have purchased EVs for use by city officials, especially in those parts of the country where EVs have seen the greatest growth over the past decade. And thankfully, there are a lot of choices for cities at the moment when it comes to no-frills EVs in almost every bodystyle.


But battery-electric emergency vehicles remain exceedingly rare. Part of the reason, of course, is availability, but another issue continues to be infrastructure investments, as well as range and price requirements of the ordering agencies, given all the equipment on board that also needs electric power.

That's slowly changing as more conversion specialists begin to offer electric ambulances to those municipalities where such vehicles could make sense.

The city of London has just taken delivery of the first in a batch of battery-electric ambulances based on the Ford Transit, completed by Germany-based conversion specialist WAS. The first of the ambulances began its 12-hour shift on New Year's Eve in the busy metropolis.

"We've had electric patient transport vehicles and support vehicles, but until now we haven't had an electric ambulance responding to life-threatening emergencies in London," says Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive at London Ambulance Service (LAS).

The UK has already employed battery-electric vehicles as EMT vehicles, with 56 charging stations already installed at ambulance stations, but a fully equipped ambulance is a first.

WAS offers an electric ambulance based on the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis as well, with a range of 150-200 kilometers (93 to 124 miles), relying on a single motor producing 197 hp and 848 lb-ft of torque.

The company notes the Sprinter-based ambulance can be recharged in just 1.5 hours at fairly tame 50-kW speeds. So the downtime even for a mostly depleted battery isn't that long.

a group of people in a room
The first of the ambulances began its first shift on New Year’s Eve in London.London Ambulance Service

The key, of course, is ABC, or Always Be Charging while parked at the station or hospital in between calls. As WAS points out, this will allow the E-Ambulances to retain a high state of charge during their regular 12-hour shifts. This requires dedicated charging stations at ambulances garages, and not just one but several in each of the hospitals an ambulance can visit during the day.

Ideally, a regional hospital system would install fast-chargers at each location for its fleet of ambulances.

Of course, battery-electric ambulances may not make sense for every type of municipality, especially rural ones where travel distances can be significant. Even years ago it was clear that denser cities with larger ambulance fleets would be the first to transition their fleets to battery-electric power, while also adding plenty of charging stations to each emergency room location.

London's recent purchase of four E-Ambulances from WAS is one of the first major steps toward the city's adoption of battery-electric emergency vehicles, but it's clear this process will take quite some time even for cities as keen to go green as London. And it will take similar initiatives by other large cities to motivate conversion specialists to offer electric emergency vehicles.

"It's brilliant to see London Ambulance Service leading the way with London's first fully electric emergency ambulance," said London Mayor Sadiq Khan. "This new vehicle will enable paramedics to deliver first class care to thousands of patients whilst also improving air quality and reducing harmful, toxic emissions in the capital."

This year's RETTmobil emergency vehicle trade show in Germany should see a few battery-electric offerings from conversion specialists, aimed first and foremost at the European market.

But such vehicles are not confined to Europe. REV Ambulance Group in the US offers its own battery-electric model that has been available since 2022.

Will we see electric ambulances in service in the US in the second half of the decade in any significant number, or will this process occur far later, in the next decade? Let us know what you think.