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UK electric vehicle startup Arrival picks N.C. for North American base

Charlotte close to planned microfactory and major customer UPS

London-based electric delivery van and bus startup Arrival will base its North American headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo: Arrival)

London-based electric delivery van and bus startup Arrival will base its North American headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s about a half-hour north of its planned microfactory and close to major customer United Parcel Service.

UPS (NYSE: UPS) and Arrival co-developed the purpose-built electric vehicles. The initial order of 10,000 vehicles will be rolled out through 2024. UPS has an option to order 10,000 more. 

Arrival joins a crowded last-mile electric delivery truck segment where Amazon-backed Rivian, Change and Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS) play. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) also is electrifying its Transit van, and General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is considering adding a battery-electric cargo hauler.

Well heeled

With a valuation of $5.4 billion, Arrival is well heeled. In addition to partnerships with South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia, investment management company BlackRock (NYSE: BLK) invested $118 million in October, bringing Arrival’s fundraising to $3.6 billion, according to BloombergNEF.

Arrival expects to go public following a business combination with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) CIIG Merger Corp. (NASDAQ: CIIC). The reverse merger announced in November will benefit Arrival, with $660 million raised in an initial public offering and boosted by additional private equity. 

Founded in 2015, Arrival has more than 1,300 global employees in the U.S., Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Russia and Luxembourg. The new $3 million headquarters in Charlotte will add 150 employees. Former GM executive Michael Abelson is North American CEO of the 5-year-old company. His most recent position at GM was growing electric vehicle infrastructure.

Microfactory approach

Arrival plans its first two microfactories in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and Bicester, U.K. They will start with zero-emission bus and van models assembled using Arrival’s proprietary hardware and vertically integrated technology. Its goal is to make electric vehicles (EVs) price competitive to diesel and gasoline vehicles with lower total cost of ownership (TCO) than comparable EVs.

The $46 million Rock Hill plant will focus on electric buses, using a cell-based assembly method to produce vehicles rather than a traditional automotive production line. It will create 240 jobs, Arrival said. A localized supply chain will help to reduce the plant’s environmental impact.

Sustainability MOU

Arrival signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Charlotte to help the city create a sustainable urban environment including fueling city fleets and facilities with 100% zero-carbon sources by 2030.

“This partnership forms a roadmap in how we design a regionally Integrated Transportation Ecosystem that pulls together components like EVs, charging infrastructure and digital mobility services,” Abelson said in a press release.

Charlotte provided no financial incentives to get the Arrival headquarters.

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Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.