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Is this the world’s ‘greenest’ electric delivery vehicle?

Transport emissions in the UK have been falling. But are they low enough? Not yet. With transport remaining the largest emitting sector, responsible for 28% of all greenhouse gas emissions in the UK, we are in need a positive change – and soon.

Enter Royds Withy King client Arrival, with their strapline “zero-emission mobility solutions for your city”.

We have spoken to Daniel Chin, their Head of Legal, to find out how their tech, assembly and partnership with UPS are all geared towards achieving that. Now top of LinkedIn’s annual Top Startups list and a ‘unicorn’, Arrival was founded in 2015 with a mission to make electric vehicles mainstream in order to drive the adoption of sustainable technologies.

Not very new, even in 2015, you may think. True enough. Tesla was already creating electric cars then. However, the tech was not necessarily ground-breaking, adoption was slow, and, crucially, no one was doing it effectively in the commercial vehicle space.

Green at no extra cost

Denis Sverdlov, founder and CEO of Arrival, saw the opportunity to make a positive impact on the environment by making it financially viable for commercial fleets to choose electric vehicles.

With over 300 million vans and trucks fuelled by petrol or diesel, the commercial vehicle market is a major contributor to the world’s transport emissions. The automotive industry is notoriously slow to change, and supply chains are complex and well-established. However, as a startup, Arrival was able to take existing technology and enter into new supply agreements unencumbered.

Initially, commercial fleet operators were fairly sceptical as electric vehicles tend to have much higher purchase prices. Arrival had to work hard to convince their potential customers that they could electrify their fleet in a way that was both economical and environmentally friendly. This customer education persistence paid off just a year into the company’s existence when Arrival partnered up with UPS in 2016 to develop their electric vehicles.

What makes Arrival’s electric vehicles unique?

Generation 1 electric vehicles are existing fossil fuel vehicles retrofitted with electric power trains, making them expensive, inefficient and costly to run and maintain. In contrast, Arrival’s Generation 2 products have been designed from scratch and feature a so-called “skateboard” platform, which is based around a linear aluminium chassis housing modular components including batteries, motor and the drivetrain.

This design surpasses traditional vehicles in cost, design and efficiency. The assembly method is another notable innovation. Arrival’s other breakthrough is its new method of utilising low capital, low footprint micro-factories well placed to serve local communities with a small carbon footprint to achieve profitability at thousands of units.

Between the design and the assembly process, Arrival’s vehicles are priced the same as, or lower than, both current fossil fuel vehicles and other electric vehicles. It’s a win-win for commercial fleet managers: positive environmental impact and no extra cost work together to drive the switch to electric and accelerate the adoption.

Look out soon for the world’s most advanced delivery vans

Arrival’s initial partnership with UPS was just a start. In January 2020, UPS invested in Arrival and ordered 10,000 vehicles to be rolled out over 2020-2024 with the option for a further 10,000, all part of their transition to a zero-emissions fleet.

The new purpose-built electric delivery vehicles have been co-developed by the two companies. They meet UPS’s exact specifications including the latest advanced control and safety features based on Arrival’s flexible “skateboard” platforms, matching UPS’s requirements in terms of driving, loading, depot and back office operations. These vehicles in UPS’s distinctive brown and yellow livery will be among the world’s most advanced package delivery vehicles, redefining industry standards for electric, connected and intelligent vehicle solutions.

What’s next?

Financially, Arrival is already a success. The 2020 UPS deal was reported to be worth $400m. In the same year, the startup announced that Hyundai Motor Group and Kia Motors had invested €100 million. In the first quarter of 2021, Arrival is set to list in the US through a reverse takeover, valuing the company at $5.4bn.

The eco-friendly vehicle market in Europe is expected to grow rapidly. And financially viable electric vehicles don’t have to be limited to vans either. Arrival’s zero-emissions bus is aimed at making public transport viable for a new normal. Zero-touch bell, removable seats to facilitate social distancing, cantilever seating, smooth interior surfaces for easy cleaning, information screens telling us during the wait at the station how many seats are available – now that’s a bus we are all on board with.

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