Not nearly as important to the ecosystem of the American business, but absolutely vital to the UK and other Europeans is the short range delivery van. This commercial van is the lifeblood of small business deliveries all over the Kingdom, and Arrival is among the first to really apply BEV technology to the so-called white van. It hopes to have production up and running by 2021.
With a new idea of how manufacturing is supposed to happen, Arrival hopes to get its electric vans on the market for about the same price as a comparable ICE van. It also claims a range of 300 miles, which should be more than enough for European deliveries. Hyundai Group seems convinced enough to give the company a big chunk of change.
Arrival has been around for about 6 years now, and has developed a new assembly process it’s calling “microfactories”. Instead of hauling the vehicle down an assembly line, little robots bring all of the parts to build the car to its designated “cell”. I guess this is the opposite of a gigafactory? The current assembly facility is located in Bainbury, Oxfordshire, but Arrival plans to expand operations to North America and Europe. It currently employs over 800 people in five countries.
You may recall that last year Hyundai Group also invested heavily in the Croatian electric supercar manufacturer Rimac. It seems Hyundai is serious about this electrification thing. And it wants to get in to all segments of the EV market from commercial to millionaire enthusiast. Good stuff.
Arrival is paired up with Blackberry to develop an operating system to connect all of the driver assistance and safety features in its electric vans. Prototype delivery vans are currently being tested and shopped around by delivery companies Royal Mail, DHL, UPS, and DPD, as well as telecommunication company BT.
Commercial delivery vans make perfect sense for large European cities with tailpipe emissions regulations tightening up. This means the traditional diesel delivery vans will soon be legislated out of those cities and these E-vans will take their place. Usually these delivery or telecoms companies have a predictable route and mileage traveled every day, and charging ports could easily be installed in centralized depots.
The investment from Hyundai will move Arrival closer to production, as it has previously said that it needs just $100 million to get the first vehicles to customers in 2021. The partnership will begin with these commercial vehicles, but could expand to consumer vehicles in the future.
Will it pay off? Will any of these big dollar investments, like Ford’s investment in Rivian, pay off? Time will tell.