A modular platform and battery system unveiled by General Motors in Michigan, US. Reuters
General Motors (GM) is developing an electric van aimed at business users, joining a growing list of carmakers planning EVs for the same segment which includes customers such as Amazon.com and United Parcel Service, five people familiar with the plans told Reuters.
That multibillion-dollar strategy could enable GM, Ford Motor and at least two EV startups to build and deliver more electric vehicles at a time when consumer demand for battery-powered models is still a small fraction of overall industry sales, while targeting a potentially lucrative market segment that Tesla Inc has yet to address.
GM’s plan to develop an electric van has not previously been reported. The No. 1 US automaker did not confirm the van, but has said it plans to introduce at least 20 new all-electric vehicles by 2023, in a variety of body styles including sedans, trucks and crossovers.
Suppliers familiar with such plans at GM and Ford told Reuters the Detroit automakers, which count trucks and commercial vehicles among their most profitable businesses, “don’t want to leave the door open for Tesla” as they did in consumer passenger cars.
Scott Phillippi, UPS senior director of fleet maintenance and engineering, said the package delivery firm believes electric vans have the potential to disrupt the commercial market.
“It’s going to be similar to what the Model 3 has done for the consumer market,” Phillippi said, referring to Tesla’s small near-luxury electric sedan. “Now all of a sudden, we’re off to the races.” The GM van - code-named BV1 - is due to start production in late 2021, the sources said. It is believed the BV1 van will share some components with GM’s future electric pickups and SUVs, including the automaker’s new Ultium advanced battery system.