Arrival, the start-up behind the microfactory approach to building electric delivery vans for UPS, has another tailor-made EV in the works, and this time it’s for Uber. The EV maker indicated that it is working on a purpose-built, affordable electric vehicle specifically for ride-hailing, and that it would use input from real Uber drivers to design it. The EV is expected to enter production in the third quarter of 2023, with Uber planning to go EV-only in London by 2025 and in Europe and North America by 2030.
The Arrival Car, as it is being referred to at the moment, would be the EV start-up’s first passenger vehicle, after unveiling the Van and Bus models for its commercial customers. The start-up has shared a rendering of the vehicle from above, showing something that’s likely to be a canopy-shaped MPV perhaps similar to the Audi A2, but hasn’t hinted what kind of range it might have or how much it could cost. The vehicle is still in the design and engineering stage, with Arrival indicating that it is inviting Uber drivers to participate in the design process. The final design is scheduled to be revealed before the end of the year.
Arrival wouldn’t be the first company to offer a purpose-built electric taxi in London, as the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) had unveiled its own design styled after a traditional British cab. Given the usage pattern, it’s likely that the Arrival Car would be more of a dual-purpose vehicle, also suitable as a family car. It would also have to be relatively inexpensive, to allow those working as Uber drivers to be able to afford it, and still be rugged enough to cover about 30,000 miles a year in an urban environment, which is what a typical ride-hailing vehicle covers each year.
So it will have to be more flexible than what is expected of an electric London cab. Still, it’s interesting that Uber is going the tailor-made design route with a company that has yet to put a sizable fleet of EVs on the streets, rather than collaborating with an established EV maker like Nissan.
“We are confident that electrifying ride-hailing vehicles will have an outsized impact on cities, and we are keen to support drivers as they manage this transition,” said Tom Elvidge, senior vice president at Arrival Mobility UK. “Arrival Car will be designed around drivers’ needs to create a vehicle that is affordable, durable, and desirable. We have a great partnership with UPS to create a best-in-class electric delivery vehicle, and we hope to replicate that success with Uber as we develop the best possible product for ride hailing that elevates the experience of the passenger and improves drivers’ health, safety, and finances.”
Uber, for its part, recently launched Uber Green in London, which offers its passengers the option to pick an EV for their ride at no extra cost, and also charges its EV drivers a lower service fee. London is a rapidly becoming an EV city by itself, having introduced congestion charges years ago to fight pollution in the city center. Uber has recorded over 3.5 million electric trips so far in London, ahead of plans to double that number by the end of 2021 and ahead of the switch to an all-EV fleet by 2025 in the city.
“As our cities open up we have an opportunity to make sure that urban transport is cleaner than ever before,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe. “Uber is committed to helping every driver in London upgrade to an EV by 2025, and thanks to our Clean Air Plan more than £135m has been raised to support this ambition. Our focus is now on encouraging drivers to use this money to help them upgrade to an electric vehicle, and our partnership with Arrival will help us achieve this goal.”
Arrival hasn’t mentioned whether the EV will also be available for private purchase, at least in Europe, without an Uber commitment, or just how many vehicles it plans to produce annually. With demand for EVs in Europe suddenly surging, it may have to think about plans for private passenger cars soon.
Is the passenger EV field ready for more players offering cars to private buyers, or has the current cast of EV makers solidified? Let us know in the comments below.
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