Rivian delivered the first of its R1T trucks to customers late last year, becoming the first auto manufacturer to market with an electric pickup truck. Importantly, it also made initial deliveries of EDV 700 electric delivery vans to Amazon.
The Amazon EDV 700 step-in van, which measures in at a 277 inch length and rides on a 187 inch wheelbase, provides a 700 cubic-foot cargo area and an estimated 200 mile driving range. It‘s powered by an electric motor energized by a lithium-ion nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery pack. The automaker plans to offer both single and dual motor, all-wheel drive versions of its commercial van product in the future.
Coming next is the smaller EDV 500, entering the market later this year with a 500 cubic-foot cargo carrying ability. The EDV 500 has a length of 248 inches and a 157 inch wheelbase,. Following this will be the largest of Rivian’s three electrified vans, the EDV 900 that offers a length of 321 inches over a 205 inch wheelbase. This heavyweight hauler will feature an 840 cubic-foot cargo bay and a GVWR of 14,000 pounds.
Rivian’s electric vehicles are built on an innovative electric ‘skateboard’ platform that integrates the vehicle’s motors, battery, cooling system, braking, and suspension. This strategy allows straightforward adaptation for varying models, wheelbases, and applications, including the company’s electric R1T pickup, R1S SUV, the EDV series it builds for Amazon, and other future Rivian models. This ‘skateboard’ approach is an advanced strategy being used for next-generation electric vehicles by a number of automakers.
The company has received substantial investment from numerous sources including Ford, and Amazon, along with major funding rounds that total some $10.5 billion. Adding to this is the Rivian IPO late last year that raised close to an additional $12 billion. Thus, Rivian is well-positioned to compete alongside legacy automakers and truck manufacturers as these companies begin to offer their own electric commercial vehicles to the market. The company reportedly has over 70,000 preorders for its R1T and R1S products, and importantly it is under agreement to deliver a total of 100,000 EDVs to Amazon by 2025, with the first 10,000 to be delivered by the end of this year.
Given this, a significant amount of the company’s focus will presumably need to be directed at its Amazon delivery contract even as it scales up production of its initial product, the electric R1T pickup that was recently delivered to initial customers, and its soon-to-come R1S electric SUV. That’s a lot to handle for any start-up auto manufacturer, and juggling production priorities has potential to present challenges. In fact, Rivian announced the delay of its longest-range R1T and R1S models with the Max battery pack until 2023, no doubt as it finds its production sweet spot.
Even with its milestone order and production commitment with Amazon – a company that reportedly now owns 20 percent of this new auto manufacturer – Rivian has launched a fleet page for taking general orders for its Rivian Commercial Van (RCV) variant. The list of potential applications for its electric commercial van models goes well beyond the focused electric last mile delivery purpose of Amazon’s vans, ranging from field service and transport to construction and utility use. These configurable commercial models are designed to fit diverse needs with payload capacities ranging from 1,960 to 5,300 pounds. Rivian says deliveries of the RCV will begin in 2023.
Rivian is making strategic moves to increase production with a 623,000 square foot expansion of its manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois – a former Mitsubishi assembly plant – to a total of 4 million square feet. The company is also moving forward with plans for a second production and technology facility near Atlanta, Georgia, with a potential build capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year. Representing a $5 billion investment, Rivian is hoping to begin construction of its Georgia facility this summer and start vehicle production there in 2024.
Ford’s popular full-size Transit Van continues to evolve, and this year there’s a new and more environmentally compatible option for commercial buyers. While the conventionally-powered Transit will no doubt represent the bulk of Ford’s van sales for a while yet, it’s new electric 2022 E-Transit will surely find a welcome home with those companies and businesses where its zero-emissions operating parameters are a good fit.
The 2021 Ford E-Transit’s powertrain consists of an underfloor battery delivering energy to an electric motor that drives the rear wheels, delivering 266 horsepower and 317 lb-ft torque. A 67 kWh lithium-ion battery pack is located beneath the van’s floor so it’s out of the way and does not intrude on the E-Transit’s flat load floor. Charging is via a port located in the front grille, making it convenient to pull forward head-in to a charging station. Driving range varies from 108 to 126 miles depending on van configuration.
E-Transit is available in Regular, Long, and Extended versions with low, medium, and high roof heights, plus a cab-chassis configuration for those wanting to adapt unique cargo boxes. The vans offer cargo volumes of 246 to 487 cubic feet and payload capacity of 3,240 to 3,800 pounds, depending on configuration. Driving range on battery power also varies between the models from 108 to 126 miles. While typical charging will be via a standard 240-volt Level 2 charging station in about 8 hours, the E-Transit is fast-charge capable and able to charge from 15 to 85 percent charge on a 50 kW charger in 65 minutes, and from 15 to 85 percent in just 34 minutes on a 115 kW DC fast charger.
The driver is placed well forward in the two passenger E-Transit cabin with a large windshield and expansive side glass for maximum visibility. Driver controls include a tilt and telescopic steering wheel, with a large rotary dial for drive mode selection just to the right of the steering column for easy access. Steering is electric-assist for easy maneuvering even when heavily loaded.
Ford kept the interior configuration of the E-Transit compatible with traditional engine-powered Transit vans so existing aftermarket cargo racks and accessories should bolt right in. That’s a real plus for current Transit owners desiring a transition to electric. Since the view out the back of a cargo van is limited, the E-Transit comes standard with Reverse Brake Assist, a rear vision obstruction sensing system that will stop the van before it hits objects behind the van while backing up. The system also provides help when backing around obstacles. Moving forward, E-Transit features both Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control and pre-collision braking assist.
In addition to delivery duties, the E-Transit is well-suited for construction and other traditional van applications. To that end, there’s an available Pro Power Onboard 2.4 kW electrical system that can be utilized run power tools and other electric needs at the jobsite. Convenient outlets are located just inside the rear doors.
Ford is promising a network of over 2,100 EV-certified dealerships if service is ever needed, something that not all electric vehicle manufacturers can offer. The E-Transit cargo van is now in production and starts at $47,185.
A new venture by General Motors and start-up company BrightDrop is now producing all-electric EV600 delivery vans that address the need for zero-emission deliveries. So named to highlight the electric commercial van’s 600 cubic feet of enclosed cargo space, the EV600 features an available payload of 2200 pounds and a substantial maximum gross vehicle weight rating of 9900 pounds. With an overall wheelbase just over 150 inches and a length of 288 inches, the EV600 is large enough for commercial delivery use but also well-sized for city maneuverability. This heavy hauler is also prepared for all driving conditions with its all-wheel-drive traction.
The van’s space-efficient packaging places its 20 module GM Ultium battery below the vehicle’s flat load floor so there is no infringing on cargo space. Ultium is the advanced generation battery developed by GM that will power all of its future EV products and is now being used in the GMC Hummer EV. GM estimates the EV600 will deliver up to 250 miles of range on a full charge. As with most electric vehicles, the BrightDrop 600 can capture lost energy through a regenerative braking system during deceleration and stop and go traffic. Charging via a 120 kW DC fast charger provides up to 170 miles of electric range in just an hour.
EV600 comes with a standard cargo area security system and motion sensors that can alert a driver to shifting cargo loads. The bulkhead between the driver/passenger features an autolocking door and the cargo bay features a large sliding door for easy access. Interior lighting is provided by energy efficient LED lights.
Recognizing that visibility in a panel van can be challenging, the EV600 features an optional HD surround vision system using multiple cameras around the van to give the driver a birds-eye view of the area surround the EV600. A 13.4-inch LCD infotainment screen is provided. Advanced driver assist systems include automatic emergency braking and forward collision alert, along with front pedestrian braking, front and rear park assist, and optional blind zone steering assist.
Fleet managers will appreciate the ability to remotely locate and track the EV600 through GPS, with the added capability of remotely locking, unlocking, starting, and stopping the EV600. Overall, BrightDrop offers a well thought-out product line that’s enhanced with BrightDrop powered pallets, which enable an individual delivery driver to efficiently move heavy cargo at the delivery site. The EV600 comes with a 36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and 8-year 100,000 electrification warranty.
The EV600 is now in limited production with large-scale manufacturing slated to move to GM’s CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Canada later in 2022. This electric delivery van will no doubt become a common sight on public roads soon since the first batch of EV600s has been delivered to FedEx in time for holiday season deliveries.
The Mercedes-Benz Metris is this automaker’s offering for commercial vehicle buyers who like the Sprinter van, but desire something a bit smaller. They get it in the Metris mid-size van, a model first introduced to the U.S. in the 2016 model year that’s somewhat larger than compact competitors on the market. Because it’s smaller than the Sprinter, it’s more maneuverable in an urban setting with a reasonable 38.7 foot turning diameter. Notably, the Metris van offers a height that allows it to be parked in a standard garage. For commercial interests like hotels and transport companies needing a people mover, Metris also comes in a passenger version with seating for up to eight.
Mercedes-Benz is associated with luxury sedans, premium SUVs, and upscale sports cars in the U.S, but the Metris – like the Sprinter – charts its own course. This van is devoid of the luxury appointments expected in the automaker’s consumer products, instead keeping things simple with fewer frills and a much greater focus on the features most desired by tradesmen, businesses, and fleets.
To this end, Metris is fitted with sliding doors on both sides and wide-opening rear doors. Power sliding side doors are an option. It has a cargo capacity of 2500 pounds and can tow 5,000 pounds. A standard pallet fits between the wheel wells. The roof can support over 330 pounds. Plus, configuring a Metris for specific commercial uses is made easier with the Mercedes-Benz MasterUpfitter program that offers many options for interior and exterior customization. Fleet operators will appreciate the 15,000-mile service interval.
Metris is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine that’s EPA rated at 20-21 mpg in the city and 23-24 mpg on the highway. It connects to a seven-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel paddle shifters, an unusual feature on a commercial van. New for 2019 is standard stop/start operation to enhance efficiency and an optional rear liftgate.
Crosswind Assist, Attention Assist, Hill Assist Start, and a load-adaptive Electronic Stability Program are standard on both van and wagon. Entry-level versions also include an Audio 10 radio head unit with Bluetooth capability and five speakers. Optional convenience and safety features include Active Parking Assist, Lane Keeping Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, and Blind Spot Assist, plus parking sensors and a rear view camera.
Businesses requiring a delivery or work van that can fit a diversity of needs will see this Mercedes-Benz product an affordable option, a surprise to some since it has a Mercedes-Benz emblem on the front grille. And it became even more accessible with the more basic and lower cost Worker version added to the mix, which reduced the model’s initial launch price by $3,000 to bring the cost of entry to $25,995.
Ford's Transit Connect, named Green Car Journal's 2019 Commercial Green Car of the Year™ at the San Antonio Auto & Truck Show, is available in both cargo van and wagon variations. This popular commercial vehicle emerges as an all-new generation in 2019, with changes in its overall appearance at both ends and inside, through changes were minor. It continues to be offered in both short and long wheelbase versions. The larger van has more cargo volume and an increased payload capability of an additional 60 pounds over the smaller van's 1510 pounds. There are rear-door options - liftgate and panel truck style – as well as dual side doors. It’s available in XL and XLT trim.
Three engine choices are available, two of them new. One new offering is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder, direct-injected flex-fuel (gasoline/E85 ethanol) engine producing 160 horsepower and 144 lb-ft torque, featuring 24 city/27 highway mpg. Also new is a 1.5-liter EcoBlue four-cylinder turbodiesel slated to arrive later in the model year. Auto stop/start is standard on both new engines. Six-speed automatic and new eight-speed automatic transmissions are offered. The Transit Connect’s carryover 2.5-liter Duratec four-cylinder engine features 169 horsepower and 171 lb-ft torque, delivering 20 city/27 highway mpg fuel economy. Fleet buyers can get the 2.5-liter engine prepped for propane or compressed natural gas conversions. The family of EcoBlue engines was developed by Ford engineering teams in the U.K. and Germany to replace the current Duratorq diesel engines. They offer improved fuel economy as well as reduced CO2 and NOX emissions.
Since connectivity is important, especially for fleet managers who use it to enhance productivity, the Transit Connect has a standard 4G LTE modem capable of connecting 10 devices to the internet. A charger for wireless devices and two USB ports are also standard.
This compact van’s list of standard driver-assist features includes pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, rear view camera, and automatic emergency braking with forward collision warning. Available systems include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, driver impairment monitor, and lane-keeping aid with lane departure warning. Standard Ford MyKey technologies allow fleet managers to preset warnings, set speed limits, and restrict audio volume. Also standard is a rear view camera, curve control, torque vectoring control, trailer sway control, and side-wind mitigation.
Mercedes-Benz has unveiled its all-new Sprinter van, the third-generation of this highly successful commercial vehicle that first came on the scene in 2006. Beyond the model’s updated styling are its many features that mark the Sprinter’s entry into an increasingly connected and environmentally-focused world. The new Sprinter is available for order now in the European market and will be launched there in June, with a gradual introduction into other markets to follow.
Perhaps the most interesting bit of news about the new Sprinter is the coming introduction of an electric variant next year, part of Mercedes-Benz’ efforts to introduce electrification in its commercial fleet. The eSprinter will follow in the footsteps of the eVito van that has been available for order since late last year. Deliveries of the eVito are set to begin during the second half of 2018. The eVito will be followed by the eSprinter in 2019. According to Mercedes, its electric commercial vans will offer operating costs similar to comparable diesel-powered models. Electric eSprinter and eVito models are primarily designed for commercial use in city centers.
An array of important optional driver assistance and safety systems are now available in new Sprinter vans that were only previous offered in Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicles. Among these are the automaker’s Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Attention Assist, and the radar-based DISTRONIC distance control system, When Blind Spot Assist is ordered with the Sprinter’s automatic parking package, traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the van are recognized and autonomous braking will initiate if needed.
"Our new Sprinter is the first van of a new type – a fully connected integral system solution,” shares Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “We have made it even better with regard to its traditional strengths and have supplemented it with intelligent products and services. So, we are unlocking a new dimension in terms of efficiency, flexibility, connectivity, and profitability for our customers.”