Electric Truck Unicorn Arrival Revamps The Transit Bus For A Post-Coronavirus Era
Arrival, a Hyundai-backed startup preparing to build electric delivery trucks for UPS, wants to revamp the humble transit bus with a boxy battery-powered model with a subway car-like interior that’s designed to ease commuters’ health worries in a post-Covid-19 world.
The zero-emission Arrival Bus, with plastic partitions between rows of seats and removable seats to keep passengers spaced apart, is being developed as transit agencies contend with declining ridership due to coronavirus lockdowns and recommendations that people avoid crowds. Details on the range, pricing and timing of when the buses go into production weren’t provided.
“Arrival’s core focus is to make your everyday experience radically better, whether that is your daily journey on an Arrival Bus, or through your work as a driver delivering parcels from an Arrival Van,” Kwame Nyanning, Arrival’s chief of experience, said in a statement. “We are working with cities to make every touchpoint within the urban transportation ecosystem not only better, but also more equitable and sustainable.”
London-based Arrival came out of stealth with a bang early this year, announcing that Hyundai and Kia bought a 100 million euro ($110 million) stake that boosted the startup’s valuation to more than $3 billion. Soon after UPS, which is also an investor, said it would buy up to 10,000 of Arrival’s relatively low-cost electric delivery vans for its fleet in a deal that ultimately could be worth nearly $500 million. Arrival is using a flat, skateboard-style platform and lightweight body panels for its vehicles that hold down cost, improve range per charge and can be sold without heavy public subsidies.
Created by entrepreneur Denis Sverdlov, an ex-Russian government official who made a fortune from the sale of his mobile phone startup Yota to Russian cellular provider MegaFon for $1.2 billion in 2012, Arrival intends to produce its vehicles, including the new bus, at small-scale factories located close to where they’ll be put into service.
Entering the transit bus market puts Arrival into competition with current leaders in the electric bus space including China’s BYD and Silicon Valley-based Proterra, a company packed with former Tesla engineers and executives.
Arrival says it’s partnering with governments and cities to build an “integrated public transport ecosystem that supports their net-zero emission goals” that includes shared cars, taxis, buses, delivery robots and charging stations.