As goes the general market, so follow the vans. Between pandemic at-home deliveries and more bespoke and third-party delivery services than ever, finding the right delivery vehicle isn’t just key—it’s tantamount to make-or-break success, and going electric offers intriguing—and potentially serious cost-saving—opportunities.
Amazon Rivian Delivery Van
Range: 120-150 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 800+ lb.-ft. / NA / 9,350 – 14,000 lbs.
Availability: Late 2022
Rivian makes big waves in the electric truck market, but its first delivery wasn't a truck—it was a van custom built for Amazon in 2020. Amazon ordered 100,000 more by 2030, and the first 10,000 should be arriving in fleet managers' hands in 2022. Amazon intends to eventually replace its entire fleet with three different models of the electric Rivian (500, 700, and 900 cubic feet, respectively). Each van will feature the same rear electric motor and underfloor battery currently estimated for 150 miles per charge. Rivian hasn't disclosed much, but it doesn't need to—not with Jeff Bezos' juggernaut as its primary partner. The Prime van should include extensive safety and comfort options to encourage drivers to stick around (and keep making those Prime deliveries). It also features heated seats, arm rests, and a large infotainment system. For an investment from Amazon of over $400 million, it's probably the least Rivian could do.
Range: 210 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / ~4,300 lbs. / ~5,800 lbs. Availability: Late 2022 / Early 2023
Electric startup Arrival plans to begin delivering its last-mile cargo van in late 2022 / early 2023. With a 1% stake from UPS and a commitment to purchase 10,000 vehicles, the three-door Arrival van will soon become a more common delivery sight. Arrival hopes to make its mark with efficient and relatively cheap customizable vans, offering many options on lengths, heights, and battery capacities, with additional focus on driver safety and ADAS technologies. The van comes with an 11-kW AC onboard charger with DC fast-charging capabilities up to 120 kW. It’s powered by a 163-hp engine with a range from 110-210 miles, depending on battery type. Modularity is key for the Arrival van, and all models feature a 4,354-lb. payload capacity housed by lightweight composite body panels in an aluminum frame for swift swapouts when fenderbenders inevitably occur. Arrival is hopeful its projected low total cost-of-ownership will keep its driver, its customers, UPS (and other future stakeholders) happy, profitable, and safe.
Range: 200 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 334 lb.-ft. / 8,000 lbs. / 10,000-14,000 lbs.
Availability: Late 2022
Bollinger also wants in on the electric van market and delivers, quite literally, with the Deliver-E. Bollinger hopes its estimated savings data will be enough to net large partners and investments—Bollinger estimates that using its new van to replace ICE vehicles could drop total cost-of-operations up to 25% over a 10-year period based on high efficiency, low energy costs, little downtime, and reduced maintenance costs. The standard Deliver-E van features a single motor backed by a 35-kWH battery pack to help deliver 307 hp and 334 lb.-ft. of torque. Where founder Robert Bollinger hopes to stand out is among the wide variety of vans available, with different options in gross-vehicle weights, body lengths, wheelbase, output, roof heights, and even battery sizes. If it needs to be moved, there's probably a Deliver-E van that can move it. Production and initial delivery are slated for 2022.
Range: 250 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / 2,200 lbs. / 9,990 lbs.
Availability: Late 2022 / Early 2023
At CES 2021, GM announced BrightDrop, a one-stop-shop for fleets combining data, electric vehicles, software, and telematics services to get the most out of every mile. The BrightDrop EV600 is intended to compete directly with Amazon's Rivian; it should make 250 miles on a full charge and offer more than 600 cubic feet of cargo space and a 2,200-lb. payload. Using input from FedEx, GM designed the BrightDrop to help ease fleet management everywhere—though the first 500 are reserved for FedEx, GM plans to make BrightDrop generally available. The company will begin taking orders in 2022 and with several letters of intent already in the books, the EV600 should be on roads soon, particularly for last-mile customers, where the limited electric range of commercial vans will help overcome cost-of-ownership through increased efficiency, safety, and logistics. GM estimates last-mile delivery to grow by 78% by 2030.
Range: 230 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 236 lb.-ft. / 1,900 lbs. / NA Availability: 2023
The electric van market is exploding, and California-based startup Canoo is in the mix with its Multipurpose Delivery Vehicle (MPDV). Available in two models (the 1 and 2), both stand on the same chassis with a FWD permanent-magnet motor that produces 200 hp and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. The MPDV will have three battery options—40-, 60-, and 80-kWh—with ranges of 130, 190, and 230 miles, respectively. The MPDV1 is about the size of the Ford e-Transit, with 200 cubic feet of cargo space. The larger MPDV2 has 450 cubic feet, and the vehicles' payloads range from about 1,500 to 1,900 lbs. The first MPDVs should hit the market in 2023, and when they do, they'll be hard to miss.
Cenntro Automotive Group CityPorter
Range: 220 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / 5,700 lbs. / NA
Another startup hits the market in the CityPorter, a Class 4 van for the last-mile segment. Usually known for producing low-speed electric utility vehicles, Cenntro's CityPorter has a 220-mile range, can carry payloads up to 5,700 lbs., and features 636 sq. ft. of cargo capacity. With a top speed of 60 mph, the CityPorter is designed for urban deliveries and low daily mileages. The company planned to expand its manufacturing network through 2021 in the U.S. and Europe and hopes to work directly with fleets through truck dealers and distributors. Battery specifications are unavailable.
Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) Urban Delivery Van
Range: 110 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / 2,100 lbs. / 3,133 lbs.
Jim Taylor is a 30-year veteran of General Motors and the founder of Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS). ELMS has a long story, but the main point is this: its electric van is produced in the U.S. at an old production plant in Indiana, and this last fall began delivering the Urban Delivery, a light-duty vehicle made for low-range, last-mile deliveries. ELMS hopes to entice fleet management companies with its bare-bones, low cost-of-ownership vehicle; the Delivery has a range of 100-120 miles, 157 cubic feet of cargo space, and a payload of 2,100 lbs. ELMS has already secured a 1,000-vehicle order from a dealership group in North Carolina, and plans to create almost 1,000 new jobs to build 100,000 vehicles per year by 2024, proving you don't need to be at the top of the market to find a niche and compete.
Range: 125 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 317 lb.-ft. / 3,800 lbs. / NA Availability: 2022
The Ford Transit has been an unmitigated success and is the world's best-selling van 55 years and counting. Ford plans to capitalize on that cache and invest $22 billion into EVs through the next several years. The Mustang Mach-E has done well; the F-150 Lightning is expected to sizzle; the e-Transit should be no different. A mid-mounted motor makes 266 hp and 317 lb.-ft. of torque atop a 67-kWH battery pack under the cargo floor. Attuned to its gas-powered counterpart's success, Ford plans to offer several combinations of the e-Transit (all rear-drive only), including three heights and three lengths with a maximum payload of 3,800 lbs. and over 480 cubic feet of cargo space (same as the current Transit). Like many electrified work trucks, the e-Transit also functions as a mobile generator with 2.4 or 7.2 kW at 240V available. It should only have about 125 miles of range per charge but a robust charging infrastructure and backing from Ford should make the e-Transit as common a sight as, well, the Transit, with 45 miles of range available over 15 minutes on a DC fast charger with a full charge available around the usual 8 hours. Ford also promises robust fleet connection tools, telematics and advanced ADAS safety features, and reported as recently as November that it had sold out all its reservations for the e-Transit, though did not reveal how many vehicles that meant.
Lightning eMotors F-59
Range: 80+ miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 790 lb.-ft. / NA / 19,500-22,000 lbs.
Based in Loveland, CO, Lightning eMotors makes medium- and heavy-duty vehicles for urban markets, including the F-59 zero-emissions van. Primarily built to serve cargo and food truck segments, the F-59 features two models for 80- and 110-mile ranges with flexible Level 2 AC charging as well as DC fast charging up to 50 kW. Intended as a city and urban utility vehicle, the F-59 features a battery-electric motor for 241 hp, 790 lb.-ft. of torque. Intended to work with progressive fleets, Lightning eMotors hopes to improve fleets' operating costs and safety while achieving maximum efficiency and ROI.
Lightning eMotors Transit Cargo Van
Range: 140+ miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: 733 lb.-ft. / NA / 11,000 lbs.
The other notable van offering from Lightning eMotors is the electric Transit van, a reliable and efficient van mostly deployed for parcel carriers, hospital systems, and other urban, low mileage uses. Two models offer 140- and 170-mile ranges and feature Level 2 AC charging as well as DC fast charging. The Transit can be charged to full capacity in just five hours on the smaller model and under nine in the larger one, with both reaching 80% capacity under two hours on a DC station. With gross vehicle weights under 12,000 lbs. (depending on specs) and a peak power of 215 hp and 733 lb-ft. of torque, the Transit isn't delivered to tow, but it is poised to move cargo, people, and be upfitted for longevity and reliability.
Range: 224 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA/NA/NA Availability: 2023
Already available in Europe, the eSprinter is slated for to begin US production in 2023 in South Carolina. Available in two wheelbases and heights, the American eSprinter hopes to make an immediate splash with cargo and passenger van models as well as a chassis cab. Three different batteries power it to a maximum 224 miles. More details will follow as the calendar rolls ahead. The current Sprinter has 533 cubic feet of cargo space, and the eSprinter should match if not improve upon that figure. Much has also been made of the Mercedes-Benz EQV (based on the popular Metris), but as of this writing there are no plans to sell it in the United States.
Morgan Olson Storm Walk-in Cargo Van
Range: ~100 miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / 4,000 lbs. / <10,000 lbs.
The Morgan Olson Storm debuted in 2020. The Storm is a Class 2 walk-in step van designed to provide large fleets with a commercial-grade delivery solution under 10,000 pounds. The Storm hopes to provide a more normalized driving experience for last-mile partners, features advanced safety technology, and most notably lacks many light-weight doors and accessories that bog down cycle life. The Storm is designed for reliability and longevity without constant maintenance and upcycling, and it sits atop the BMWi EV powertrain. The Storm is lauded for its high driver's seat and ease of operation and is made for weary last-mile delivery drivers to maximize ergonomics and efficiency.
VW ID.Buzz Cargo Van
Range: 300+ miles Torque/Payload/GVWR: NA / 1,760 lbs. / NA
One of the buzziest EVs coming out is, of course, the VW ID.BUZZ. Reminiscent of the original (and much loved) microbus, the 2024 ID.BUZZ is electric and hopes to capture the imagination of those who desire a stylish family vehicle (or hauler) unlike anything else out there. The retro design should sit atop VW's Modular Electric Drive (MEB) platform also found on the Audi e-tron crossover and VW Id.4. It should make about 300 miles of range. The base RWD model should provide 200 hp while the AWD version ups that number to 300 horses. The battery should start at 48 KWh with an upgrade available to 110, providing 200 and 340 miles, respectively. VW believes the DC fast charging capability will bring the battery to 80% in just 30 minutes, which is notable. The spacious interior should be highly customizable with rotating and adjustable captain's seats, fold-up center console table, foldaway steering wheel, and futuristic heads-up display. Test concepts have been spotted from the arctic circle to Germany, and the Type 2 passenger van-inspired EV should start turning heads as a 2024 passenger and cargo model.