UPS has announced its plans to order 10,000 electric vans from Arrival, a U.K startup that builds electric vehicles. “It’s taken a long time to get to this place,” says Scott Phillippi, the senior director for fleet maintenance and engineering for UPS’s international operations. “If you weren’t in the industry or on the inside, you’d think that [electric vehicles] were plentiful and available and affordable. And that really hasn’t been the case.”
The logistics company first began working with Arrival in 2016 and recently announced that its venture arm, UPS Ventures, also made a minority investment in the startup.
The startup builds its own core components, with a modular design that uses a standard “skateboard” base that can be topped with different cabins. Arrival’s CEO has said that its vehicles will be more affordable than diesel vehicles from competitors. UPS won’t comment on the purchase price, but says that Arrival is price competitive with UPS’s current vehicles.
UPS has tested a prototype of an earlier Arrival vehicle and will begin rolling out more in cities such as London, where it has installed new charging infrastructure to handle a growing fleet of EVs. The company’s commitment to buy 10,000 vehicles will make up a significant portion of its fleets. The company has around 100,000 delivery vehicles globally and around 85,000 in the U.S where many of the new EVs will be deployed.
UPS will get the first prototypes later this year, small production numbers next year, and more significant numbers—at least 2,000 vehicles a year—starting in 2022.