Hyundai backs EV initiative in UK
There is another significant move in the electric vehicle domain, this time in the UK and in the field of LCVs. Korean car giant Hyundai Group (Hyundai, Kia) has announced that it is to invest 100 million euros in Arrival, a UK electric vehicle start-up whose objective is to sell battery-powered delivery vans from 2021.
Arrival describes the objective as follows: ‘The investment marks the start of a strategic partnership between the automakers to jointly accelerate the adoption of commercial electric vehicles globally. Hyundai and Kia will use key Arrival technologies to help achieve their recently announced goal to develop mobility services and electrify their vehicle fleets.’
London-based Arrival is now entering its fifth year of existence, and now has 800 employees in five countries, including Germany, Russia and Israel.
The company has been working on a shuttle bus designed for the commercial delivery market. It has indicated that the vehicle will have a range of 300 miles (480 km).
Arrival has issued a statement in which it says it will work with Hyundai and Kia to develop a variety of electric vehicles. These will in the first instance be for the commercial market and will be built on Arrival's modular vehicle platform or ‘skateboard’ comprising motor, batteries and chassis components.
Very much in line with the times, Arrival says its vehicles will be fitted with advanced driver assist features and that they can be upgraded with self-driving systems.
Addressing one of the main obstacles to the uptake of electric vehicles in general – high price – Arrival says the vehicles will be designed to sell for the same price as similar models powered by internal combustion engines. It also plans to build them in what it refers to as small ‘micro-factories’. Explaining this thinking, Arrival says: ‘Owning all parts of the process, we develop software, materials, components and scalable skateboard platforms. Our micro-factories allow us to make purpose built vehicles and adapt to any mobility ecosystem. We believe there shouldn’t be a premium for clean technologies. What’s good for business can also be good for people and the planet.’
The interest of the Korean group in this particular initiative is easy to understand when the quality of the end-users also involved is considered. Arrival has pointed out that its prototype delivery vans are being tested by the Royal Mail (the UK’s largest single fleet), along with parcel delivery giants DHL and UPS.
This is not the first time Hyundai and Kia have made a move into the electric market by partnering with external companies. In 2019 the group invested $89 million in Rimac Automobili, a Croatian company which wishes to build electric supercars and which, perhaps unsurprisingly given this fact, is also backed by Porsche.
There is quite clearly a social interest in this move. Companies of all types are coming under increasing pressure, including from their own shareholders, to become more environmentally-friendly. This has led to a surge in ‘last mile’ initiatives, whereby large and polluting trucks are not used for the very final part of delivery to stores, but are replaced by cleaner vehicles such as electric cargo bikes and vans, operating from peripheral hubs.
Image source: Arrival