Electric TrucksLast-mile deliveryModern ShipperNewsTrucking

Arrival sets second US microfactory as public trading nears

Russian’s money and GM executives drive startup’s unique manufacturing plan

U.K. electric delivery van and bus startup Arrival Ltd. will build its second U.S. microfactory in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of its U.S. headquarters. The SPAC-backed startup begins public trading Thursday.

The new microfactory will make vans to help fulfill a 10,000-unit order from United Parcel Service (NYSE: UPS). Many of the vehicles produced at the Charlotte microfactory are expected to enter UPS’ North American and European fleets.

“We’re excited by this significant milestone that will enable UPS to economically deploy electric vehicles throughout our global operations at an increasing pace,” Luke Wake, vice president of maintenance and engineering for UPS Corporate Automotive, said in a press release.

UPS is ordering electric vehicles from several companies, including Workhorse Group (NASDAQ: WKHS). That 900-unit order for composite-body electric delivery vans is delayed by Workhorse’s slow production ramp-up at a factory in Union City, Indiana. Workhorse provided UPS two Workhorse vans able top launch drones from their roofs.

Wake called Arrival’s microfactory approach “a masterful use of logistics.” 

Arrival plans 33 microfactories globally, each using proprietary in-house developed components, materials and software. The microfactories are designed for 10,000 units a year but can be scaled for greater production. The $41.2 million Charlotte facility is planned for the third quarter of 2022. Arrival chose Charlotte for its North American headquarters in December.

A second microfactory designed to build Arrival’s electric buses, is planned for Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Arrival has more than 1,500 employees located in Germany, the Netherlands, Israel, Russia and Luxembourg.

A founder’s riches

Russian telecommunications tycoon and ex-politician Denis Sverdlov founded Arrival in 2015. According to Bloomberg, Sverdlov owns 76% of the company based on his $450 million investment. At its current $15 billion valuation of Arrival, Sverdlov’s stake has appreciated 3,000%, Bloomberg reported.

Sverdlov’s Luxembourg investment company, Kinetik Sarl, is valued at about $11 billion, Bloomberg said. Arrival raised $300 million last year that included investments from Hyundai Motor, BlackRock Inc. and Vladimir Potanin, Russia’s richest man. 

The business combination with special purpose acquisition company CIIG Merger Corp. (NASDAQ: CIIC) is expected to close Wednesday following last Friday’s shareholder vote in favor of the reverse merger. Shares are expected to begin trading Thursday under the ticker symbol ARVL. 

Ex-General Motors leadership

Two former General Motors Co. executives are key leaders of Arrival. Avinash Rugobar is president. He helped bring autonomous vehicle startup Cruise Automotive into GM. Mike Abelson is CEO of Arrival Automotive. He formerly GM vice president of global strategy.

“Our newest microfactory will be producing two different classes of EV vans for our U.S. customers, expanding the zero-emissions options for fleet operators and accelerating the mass adoption of electric vehicles,” Abelson said.

Arrival competitor Electric Last Mile Systems projects it will be the first to get Class 1 electric delivery vans to market. ELMS will assemble its vans with painted bodies imported from China at the former GM Hummer H2 assembly plant in Mishawaka, Indiana. ELMS said it has 45,000 nonbinding preorders. It is backed by SPAC Forum III Acquisition Corp. (NASDAQ: FIII)

GM itself is getting into the electric van business with a new subsidiary called BrightDrop. It will begin making vans late this year following an $800 million makeover of a plant in Ingersol, Ontario.

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

Workhorse electric delivery van builds lag as backlog swells

GM will build electric commercial delivery vans in Canada

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes UPS (No. 2).

Alan Adler

Alan Adler is a Detroit-based award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press, the Detroit Free Press and most recently as Detroit Bureau Chief for Trucks.com. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.