General Motors is reportedly working on a purely electric delivery van to go into production at the end of 2021. Also, the US carmaker is said to have imminent cooperation plans with CATL in China.
The news agency Reuters claims to have found out both. General Motors wants to address commercial customers with the electric delivery van, but also delivery services such as Amazon and UPS, as five people familiar with the plans confirmed to Reuters.
The plans seem to be very concrete, not only because of the large number of sources. The model internally called BV1 will probably take over some components from the planned electric pickups and electric SUVs of the group, according to Reuters. Among them is the battery system ‘Ultium’, which the American firm had presented in March. The series version of the BV1 will be built next to the electric Hummer and the Origin Shuttle at the Detroit-Hamtramck factory.
However, it is still open under which brand GM may offer the model. Traditionally, series with higher utility value – such as the pickup models – are sold as Chevrolet or GMC. However, according to the report, it is also possible GM could market the BV1 under a dedicated brand like Maven (the discontinued GM car sharing).
General Motors did not want to confirm the information to Reuters. In a statement, it said that there are currently no announcements regarding commercial electric vehicles. GM stressed, however, that they are committed to “a fully electric future and are implementing a scalable, multi-segment EV strategy to get there”.
Interesting, however, is one of the reasons given in the article – besides the sheer size of the market: A supplier familiar with the plans is quoted by Reuters as saying that the established manufacturers “don’t want to leave the door open for Tesla”, as happened with passenger cars. Besides, light commercial vehicles are certainly among the most profitable model ranges of US manufacturers today. And the order for 100,000 delivery vans for Amazon from Rivian alone shows the extent of the market in times of EV commerce.
Besides GM, Ford is also working on an electric delivery van. Ford had already announced a fully electric transit some time ago. In addition to the mentioned Amazon order at Rivian, the UPS order at the British Startup Arrival for 10,000 medium-sized electric delivery vans should not remain unmentioned. Reuters estimates the total value of the orders from Amazon and UPS to be at least four billion US dollars.
While GM is initially relying on the joint venture partner LG Chem for their Ultium batteries, cooperation with another cell supplier is being established for the Chinese market. As also reported by Reuters, General Motors will work “very closely” with CATL. The source here is Julian Blissett, GM president in China.
“We have already established a good working relationship and supply agreement with CATL,” Blissett told Chinese media, according to Reuters. “We are not planning on importing any major components for new energy vehicles. The drive units, batteries, motors, etc., will be made locally in China.”
There are no further details of the planned deeper cooperation in the report. It is therefore also open from which suppliers GM intends to purchase the drive units and motors – CATL is after all specialised in battery cells. The company has not responded to inquiries.
GM is allied with SAIC in China and is selling the Velite 6 EV under the brand name Buick. An almost identical model is also marketed as Chevrolet Menlo EV. Through another joint venture, GM sells Wuling electric minivans and mini-cars in China.