Update: Rivian Amazon Prime van updated with the LFP variant.
Electrification in the automobile industry does not extend just to hatchbacks or electric pickup trucks, but to commercial vehicles as well. The electric van segment especially got a lot of attention after Amazon invested more than $440 million in Rivian, with Ford having invested nearly $1.2 billion in the company, too, despite having its own model in the E-Transit.
Given that the average delivery van covers less than 160 miles a day, which is well within the reach of current battery technologies, fleet operators and e-commerce majors will seriously consider transitioning to electric vans in the near future, and here are some options.
On February 8, 2022, Ford started shipping the E-Transit electric van to customers from its Kansas City Assembly Plant. Kansas City is Ford’s first US plant to assemble both batteries and all-electric vehicles in-house. The company has invested $100 million in this factory to manufacture the E-Transit there. It has already received 10,000 orders for the new electric van.
Available in various configurations (three roof heights, three lengths, and as cargo, chassis, and cutaway), the E-Transit uses a 68 kWh lithium-ion battery and a single permanent-magnet motor rated at 198 kW (266 hp). It can travel up to 126 miles on a full charge in its cargo van low-roof model. Prices start at $43,292 excluding destination.
Rivian Amazon Prime Van
10,000 units of the Rivian Amazon electric van, called Rivian EDV, should hit the roads by the end of this year, as part of Amazon’s 100,000-unit order (to be fulfilled by 2030). The Amazon electric van is built on the R1’s skateboard chassis, albeit at a lower cost (using a lot of steel). There are three versions of the Rivian EDV: Rivian EDV 500, Rivian EDV 700, and Rivian EDV 900, named as per their respective load capacities. According to a report from autoblog, it will be available in single-motor FWD, dual-motor FWD, and dual-motor AWD configurations. Having delivered the first few units to Amazon, Rivian hopes to ramp up production of its electric van in the current quarter.
In an SEC filing on October 1, 2021, Rivian had revealed the following specifications of the EDV:
|Aspect\Specification||EDV 500||EDV 700||EDV 900|
|Length||248 in.||277 in.||321 in.|
|Wheelbase||157 in.||187 in.||205 in.|
|Cargo Space||500 cu. ft.||660 cu. ft.||840 cu. ft.|
|GVWR||9,350 lbs.||9,350 lbs.||14,000 lbs.|
|Range||Up to 150 miles||Up to 150 miles||Up to 120 miles|
By December 2022, Rivian plans to introduce an LFP (lithium iron phosphate) battery pack in the EDV, and the recipient should be the EDV 700, which is under series production. RJ Scaringe, Founder, Chairman, and CEO of Rivian, confirmed the new cell chemistry during the company’s Q1 2022 earnings conference call on May 11, 2022. LFP chemistry “fits really, really nicely” for a commercial vehicle. The company will likely expand the LFP battery pack’s availability to smaller and bigger vans in the coming years.
BrightDrop Zevo 600/BrightDrop EV600
GM-owned BrightDrop commenced deliveries of its first electric van, the BrightDrop Zevo 600, to logistics expert FedEx on December 17, 2021. Called BrightDrop EV600 initially, this electric van has an all-wheel drive powertrain that generates 300 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. It can travel up to 250 miles on a full charge. Charging is possible with AC at up to 11.5 kW and with DC at up to 120 kW. One hour of DC-fast charging can add 160 miles to the range.
The Zevo 600 features a large cargo area that is 83.68 inches wide, and 82 inches tall. The 107.93-inch tall electric van offers over 600 cu. ft. of cargo space, and the payload capacity is 2,200 lbs. The gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the first BrightDrop model is 9,990 lbs.
Kuka AG builds the Zevo 600 at a facility in Michigan. GM is re-tooling its CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll (Ontario), Canada, to move the production in-house from this fall. The company started this process on April 29, 2022, and it aims to start making the Zevo 600 at the Canadian plant from Q4 2022.
Brightdrop Zevo 400/BrightDrop EV410
BrightDrop also offers a smaller model called BrightDrop Zevo 400. Originally announced as the BrightDrop EV410, it is designed for smaller and more frequent deliveries. It is less than 20 feet long, and its wheelbase measures just over 150 inches. It offers more than 400 cu. ft. of cargo area (11,327 liters).
Verizon is the Zevo 400’s first customer, and the popular cellular carrier will induct it into its service fleet. On January 1, 2022, Brightdrop announced that Walmart has signed an agreement to reserve 5,000 units of the EV600 and EV410 electric vans. In its Q4 2021 earnings conference call, GM said that it has received more than 25,000 reservations for BrightDrop cargo vans. Merchants Fleet has ordered 5,400 units of the Zevo 400.
The Brightdrop electric van models ride on a dedicated EV architecture while making use of GM’s Ultium battery technology and drive technology (the same technology found on its passenger vehicles).
Production of the Zevo 400 will take place alongside the Zevo 600 at GM’s CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll (Ontario), Canada, from 2023.
On January 14, 2022, Michigan-based startup, Bollinger announced that it has ‘indefinitely’ delayed its electric truck and SUV (B2 and B1) and it would instead focus on its commercial electric van, the Deliver-E which it announced in 2020.
Expected to be built on a simplified version of the Bollinger skateboard platform (Chass-E), the Deliver-E would be built in multiple wheelbase sizes and configurations with battery specifications of 70 kWh, 105 kWh, 140 kWh, 175 kWh, and 210 kWh, in a front-wheel drive layout. Bollinger has not announced when production will start. It is still looking for a manufacturing partner, especially one that has experience in making van bodies as it does not plan on making the body itself, the company’s CEO Robert Bollinger said in a statement.
Bollinger Motors has outsourced manufacturing of its Class 3-6 platform platforms and chassis cab commercial vehicles to Roush Industries. Bollinger Motors will provide Roush Industries with the parts for assembly, which will conduct the further process at its Livonia facility in Michigan. Production of the Bollinger Deliver-E van could also take place at the same production site.
The current Mercedes eSprinter (which is sold in Europe) will not be launched in the USA as, according to the company, it does not meet the State’s safety and other performance requirements. However, the next-gen eSprinter, expected towards late 2023, will not only be launched in the USA but also be made locally, at North Charleston, South Carolina.
Based on Mercedes’s Electric Versatility Platform (the more advanced Mercedes VAN.EA platform is not expected until 2025), the 2023 Mercedes eSprinter is expected in two wheelbases, two roof heights, and in multiple variants (cargo, passenger, and chassis). The next gen eSprinter should be available in 60 kWh, 80 kWh, and 120 kWh battery pack options, with the 120 kWh unit delivering around 225 miles of range (the Euro eSprinter with a 55-kWh battery offers only 96 miles of range, which Mercedes considers too short for North America). An underfloor battery and a rear-wheel drive drivetrain layout are expected. The prices could fall in the region of $45,000-50,000.
Despite a series of high-level exits in its workforce, Canoo still plans to bring out the MPDV (Multi-purpose Delivery Vehicle) for the 2024 model year, according to reports. Canoo plans on having two variants of its electric van: MPDV 1 and MPDV 2. They will ride on the same skateboard chassis as the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle, but where the MPDV 1 would be the size of a Transit Connect, the MPDV 2 would be equivalent to the full-size Transit.
Both models will be front-wheel driven making around 200 hp and be available in battery sizes of 40, 60, and 80 kWh. The MPDV 1 will cover 130, 190 and 230 miles respectively whereas the larger MPDV 2 will achieve 90, 140 and 190 miles at these capacities.
Where the MPDV 1 is rated for 200 cubic feet of cargo space, the larger MPDV 2 offers more than double the cargo space – 450 cubic feet. The company claims its quirky styling has resulted in maximum interior space offering 30% more parcel volume than ICE-powered vans. The starting price of the MPDV is $33,000, and the company has started taking reservations online.
Kia Mid PBV
Kia is developing new purpose-built vehicles that run only on electricity, and one of them is a model referred to as Kia Mid PBV. It will be a boxy model with some futuristic design elements like angular headlights, slim horizontal light bars, aero wheels, etc. Kia plans to offer the Mid PBV in multiple body types and door types, with various seat layouts and battery pack options. This model will feature OTA (Over the Air) and FoD (Feature on Demand) services.
Built on a low floor and wide-flat platform, the Kia Mid PBV will be able to travel up to 600 km (373 miles) on a full charge. Developed for ride-hailing and delivery purposes, it will have a 1.8 m (5.9 ft.) indoor height. Kia will divide its interior into three zones. One of the zones will be a driver zone with a simple cockpit, visibility, optimal storage, and protective driver portion. Then there will be a utility zone usable as a passenger seating space or additional cargo space. The third and final zone will be a service zone that allows various seat layouts and even structural change of racks and portions for cargo.
Kia plans to launch the Mid PBV in 2025. The company is considering to offer it as a Robo-Taxi capable of Level 4 autonomous driving in the future. The Robo-Taxi version will likely feature a LiDAR on its roof.
Kia Large PBV
The Kia Large PBV will probably be something like a Ford E-Transit, but with way more advanced capabilities. What Kia has confirmed is that it will be a large model that customers will be able to use as a people mover shuttle, mobile store/office van, delivery van, refrigerated van, and more. The large electric van will arrive after the mid-size model mentioned above.
Ram ProMaster Electric
Stellantis will launch a Ram ProMaster EV as the brand’s first all-electric model in the U.S. and Canada in 2023. The company hasn’t revealed technical details, but we’re expecting it to target full-size electric cargo van customers who currently go for the Ford E-Transit.
As the mechanical twin of the Fiat e-Ducato from Europe (the gas-powered Promaster is a disguised Fiat van), the ProMaster EV could be available in standard-range (47 kWh battery) and long-range (79 kWh) variants, providing an EPA-est. range of around 125 miles and 200 miles, respectively. Powering the ProMaster EV could be a single motor producing 121 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque. 22 kW (AC)/50 kW (DC) could be the supported maximum charging input.
The gas-powered 2023 Ram ProMaster is available in Standard Roof, Super High Roof, and High Roof versions. The initial teasers reveal that the ProMaster EV will be available in the Super High Roof version.
According to a report from MoparInsiders.com, the ProMaster EV customers could get an option to specify their electric van with a passenger-side delivery door instead of a conventional passenger-side door. Checking this option, if provided as the report claims, would make the ProMaster EV a proper delivery van with easy entry and exit. It may do away with the need to use the sliding side doors, allowing the customers to store more cargo in the rear.
Stellantis has struck a deal with Amazon to deliver 1000s of Promaster EV vans, and is likely to be its biggest buyer in the United States.
Chevy electric van
At GM’s Q2 2021 earnings conference call, Chair and CEO Mary Barra said that the company plans to launch two new zero-emission commercial vehicles. One of these CVs will be a full-size electric cargo van from the Chevrolet brand. This model “will exceed the expectations” of Chevrolet Express customers, Barra said. Technical details, features, or release date of the full-size Chevy electric van aren’t available yet.
Blue Arc delivery van
Michigan-based Shyft Group (formerly Spartan Motors) introduced a new EV solutions brand called Blue Arc on March 9, 2022. One of the Blue Arc products the company has confirmed for launch is a Class 3 delivery walk-in van. The company says the Blue Arc van will be a one-of-a-kind product in the market designed for high-frequency, last-mile delivery fleets.
The Blue Arc delivery van offers 635-800 cubic feet of cargo space and has a payload capacity of up to 5,000 lbs. Multiple body versions will be available, with lengths ranging from 14 to 18 feet, and a range 150 to 175 miles. The delivery van features an integrated solar roof package and aluminum shelving package 175 pounds lighter than today. It includes many convenience and safety features, such as a 360-degree camera system, large HD camera displays integrated into the dashboard, automated entry, lane departure, and parking sensors.
Shyft Group expects to start delivering prototype units to customers for route testing in the coming months. Series production will likely commence at a South Eastern U.S. plant by mid-2023.
Featured Image Source: BrightDrop