The Introduction of Electric Commercial Vans
Electric Commercial Vans
The electric commercial van segment has started to take off. Multiple players have joined with the hopes of producing a vehicle that will change the market and create a wave of evolution. Electric vehicles are not a new invention as we have seen significant developments in the last 10 years. The commercial van segment will be mostly targeting the final mile type of shipments for now, with the ranges coming in at around 200km. This minimizes their use for the long haul type of shipments but is promising news moving forwards. Some manufacturers have teased longer ranges but those vehicles are likely still a few years away from hitting public roads. This blog will provide an insight into some of the electric vans that will be coming to market.
The first major car manufacturer that has put heavy resources into electric delivery vehicles is Ford. Ford introduced their e-transit line in 2020, describing it as “a smart workhorse that will offer customers enhanced productivity enabled by its fully electric powertrain, software solutions, services and pro power onboard options.” Ford has come a long way since its initial announcement. They have started distributing prototypes of their E-Transit vehicles to major companies in the UK, Germany and Norway. These fleet tests will give a better understanding of the usability of the cargo vans and the impact that they will have. Overall, there is a lot to be excited about when looking at the van Ford has built. It can be assumed that they will be a major player in this segment for years to come.
Rivian is the next company bringing an electric commercial van to market. Rivian is different from the rest of the mainstream car manufactures as electric vehicles are their sole focus. They have never been in the ICE market and have put all their efforts into producing electric vehicles. This has led to them being a respected member of the automotive industry and landed them a contract with Amazon to build 100,000 electric vans by 2030 solely for them. This will make them the primary fleet of Amazon, which should mean they will be very competitive in the electric market for years to come. Rivian is definitely one of the more interesting players in the electric van game and their ability to match the demand of Amazon will be tested over the next decade. Along with this, news surrounding Rivian will be at the forefront of the automotive industry in the next few weeks. They just filed for an IPO, seeking an $80 billion valuation, which would make them the sixth-most valuable car company.
The Rivian-Ford Connection
Another interesting aspect of Rivian is their connection with Ford. Ford initially invested $500 million in Rivian and has since invested more. One of the initial goals of the investment was for Rivian to build a high-end electric SUV for Ford’s Lincoln brand. This plan has since stopped moving forward, but their relationship remains strong. Ford looks at the investment as a partnership and plans to develop platforms with Rivian in the future.
Mercedes has committed to producing an electric version of their commercial van. Similar to Ford, Mercedes has taken their already established name of Sprinter and added an “e” in front of it, clearly expressing an electric drivetrain. The eSprinter will likely be one of the later models brought to North America out of the vans mentioned in this blog. Mercedes has already established a presence with electric vans in the European market. There is not a lot currently known about the eSprinters arrival to the North American market. Some news suggests that it may be arriving sometime in the latter half of 2023. It can be assumed that they will be bringing a quality product to market that will be very usable. Mercedes recently invested $425 million into a new electric versatility platform, supporting the notion of quality. Furthermore, the Mercedes eSprinter will be another exciting product that we should see in North America within the next few years.
The last manufacturer to announce the release of an all-electric commercial van is Ram. They are developing a version of their Ram ProMaster on an electric platform. The release of this vehicle is expected to come in the second half of 2023. Ram has seen growth in their commercial van segment as of late. They will strive to continue this momentum by bringing a quality electric commercial van to market.
The last major company to make big plans in the electric commercial van segment is GM. They have launched an entirely new company to bring their plans to fruition. This company is known as “BrightDrop” which GM calls “an ecosystem of electric products to be used as delivery vehicles and last-mile delivery solutions for commercial customers.” GM followed a similar game plan as Rivian by partnering with FedEx Express to bring an unknown number of vehicles to the road. Unlike Rivian, the vans will be available to purchase for anyone.
GM has taken one of the boldest stances to date in terms of the expected range of their vehicles. This number is set at 250 miles or about 400km. These are numbers that are getting closer to the needs of long-haul delivery companies. GM has set their bar high with the goals of BrightDrop. If successful in meeting these goals, they have the potential to bring some of the best electric products to market.
The adoption of electric vehicles has several pros, creating an opportunity for car manufacturers to jump ahead of competitors. Vans are starting to roll out and technology is continuing to evolve. As we move forward, we will likely see other brands similar to Rivian try to enter the market. This will create a great deal of competition throughout the market, pushing companies to bring solid products to market. It is definitely an exciting time for both the electric segment and the car industry in general.
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-The Team at Wood-Hall Logistics