GM took the wraps off the Chevrolet Silverado EV, which formally lays down the anvil for the approaching electrical pickup struggle. Nichole Kraatz, chief engineer of the Chevrolet Silverado EV, supplies a car walkaround to Bobit’s Louis Prejean.
Photograph by Chris Brown
The place did the time go? For the work truck business’s annual pilgrimage to Indy for Work Truck Week, the temper was “It looks like we have been right here simply yesterday.”
After pivoting to digital in 2021 because of the pandemic, the power at this 12 months’s present was palpable. The present ground was packed, with greater than 500 exhibitors and 71 new ones, an upward development from the typical of fifty to 60 in current 12 months’s previous.
The developments right here aren’t essentially new however are magnifications of the seeds planted at current exhibits. Numerous the motion concerned the shows and bulletins from the brand new crop of impartial electrical truck makers.
The Class 3-6 EV Race Heats Up
The present ground was electrical, actually, as about 20 producers exhibited electrical automobiles or electrical chassis. It should’ve been a file. Lots of the new impartial business EV makers — Xos, Bollinger, ELMS, SEA Electrical, REE Automotive, Zeus, Motiv, and Lordstown Motors — exhibited. However they have been met on the present ground by the established truck makers and their new EV merchandise.
The Shyft Group (reorganized from Spartan Motors) launched a brand new EV division, Blue Arc EV Options, that may produce an EV chassis and an electrical Class 3 supply walk-in van with deliveries beginning in Q3 subsequent 12 months. Freightliner Customized Chassis had on show its new Class 5 electrical van, MT50e. Each corporations can leverage established manufacturing and coast-to-coast supplier and repair infrastructure from launch.
Within the race to market, having a terrific product is simply the beginning, so electrical OEMs which might be simply starting to place collectively these different essential items round gross sales and repair are falling behind.
EV Indies Prepare Manufacturing Flexibility
Final 12 months, we discovered from Lordstown how a lot cash it takes to make an auto plant operational and stand up to zero cashflow from car gross sales. Edward Hightower, the brand new president of Lordstown, touted in an interview the corporate’s take care of Foxconn because the sustainable path. As a substitute of making an attempt to maintain the lights on in an empty plant, Foxconn’s vegetation and employees can transition from electronics contract manufacturing to EVs as gross sales ramp up. Xos has the same lean and versatile manufacturing course of.
For the independents, scaling manufacturing to demand is crucial to survival, because the established automakers can extra simply shift to EVs of their current vegetation.
Don’t Neglect the ICE
With all the eye on electrification, the venerable inner combustion engine (ICE) will get misplaced within the shuffle. But OEM engineers are nonetheless realizing incremental enhancements in efficiency and gasoline economic system: The 2023 model-year Ram ProMaster’s 3.6L Pentastar V-6 will get a 9% enchancment over 2022, whereas the Sprinter’s new four-cylinder diesel engine has greater low-end torque, is lighter, and will get higher mpg.
These beneficial properties do matter, as many work functions stay higher fitted to ICE automobiles and as organizations are requested to reveal carbon emission reductions from their whole fleet.
New Significance of Lightweighting, Aerodynamics
With regards to electrifying work vans, battery weight sucks up payload and kills vary — making a lighter weight, extra aerodynamic physique now extra essential than ever. Morgan Truck Body has engineered a brand new field with foam core paneled sidewalls and has changed metal and wooden with aluminum wherever doable. The supplies are dearer, however so is wooden now too. The adjustments diminished the burden of the field by an astounding 1,500 lbs., a 30% discount over the earlier design.
In an period of blind spots and distraction, offering drivers “situational consciousness” is a growing development. Morgan Truck Physique affords a digital rearview mirror and a 360-degree view to seize the encircling surroundings and inside of the truck physique.
Photograph by Chris Brown
Aerodynamic enhancements come from aspect skirts, a cab faring, and wheel covers, whereas plastic “vortex turbines” mounted up the truck’s rear aspect corners enhance air circulate. The brand new design reduces drag by 8%. Oh, and people ugly sidewall rivets are now not, on Morgan’s and different truck our bodies.
J.B. Poindexter & Co.’s new unit, EAVX, was created to do precisely this, work with JBPCO’s manufacturers Morgan, Morgan Olson, and Studying Truck to design our bodies for the brand new market of electrical chassis.
It Takes a Village to Electrify
Producers perceive that their fleet clients all in favour of shopping for EVs will need assistance with the more durable elements of electrification — planning infrastructure for residence, depot, and public charging, working with utilities on energy wants and crucial upgrades, and implementing techniques to tie all of it collectively seamlessly. That’s why producers are placing collectively bundle offers with service suppliers that may assist with these aspects.
Ford reorganized its business division into Ford Professional partly to fulfill the fleet electrification problem. Common Motors has a brand new steady of charging and power administration companions and EV fleet consultants. To Ed Peper, head of GM fleet, this “easy button” is crucial to scale fleet electrification, he mentioned in an interview.
At this 12 months’s present Hino announced Inclusev, the same portfolio of options however for the medium-duty aspect. Fleet administration corporations now have their one-stop-shops for electrification as effectively.
These are known as “vortex turbines” and although the identify conjures Again to the Future, they really enhance a truck’s air circulate for higher aerodynamics. They’re a part of a set of recent applied sciences to enhance vans’ mpg, which turns into much more essential for electrical chassis.
Photograph by Chris Brown
Cameras, Cameras, Cameras
An rising security focus of truck makers is driver “situational consciousness,” which incorporates cameras, sensors, and synthetic intelligence designed to alert drivers to highway hazards and mitigate distracted driving habits. This has been a growing development for years, although digital rearview mirrors, 360-degree fowl’s eye views, and displays mounted within the truck physique — all accessible from the manufacturing unit, not aftermarket — are gaining traction.
Morgan Truck Physique’s 360-degree imaginative and prescient techniques have displays and cameras within the cab and within the truck physique that give drivers and loaders visibility to the encircling surroundings and reveal hazardous load shifts.
In line with Ram, the “most requested enchancment requested by large-van clients is healthier visibility across the car.” In response, ProMaster added an accessible digital rearview mirror and a 360-degree Encompass View digicam.
Staying Small for the Closing Mile
The explosion of last-mile supply solely accelerated throughout the pandemic, and the work truck business is facilitating the development with new automobiles, ergonomics enhancements, and security. A lot of the motion is with smaller vans, which accommodate youthful, non-CDL drivers accustomed to client automobiles.
Metris, Mercedes-Benz Vans’ smaller business van, is now supplied in two GVWRs. The Shyft Group’s Utilimaster unveiled R2, one other car for its Velocity line particularly for last-mile deliveries. Constructed on a Ram ProMaster cutaway chassis, the walk-in R2 falls below 10,000 lbs. GVWR and avoids DOT laws.
As last-mile drivers make over 100 stops a day, even small course of enhancements facilitate extra environment friendly deliveries. Mercedes Sprinter’s “Pace Supply Door” is sensor-controlled and robotically opens to permit a driver to enter and exit with arms full.
Established truck chassis and physique makers are full into the EV area. The Shyft Group’s new division, Blue Arc EV Options, will start producing this Class 3 supply van, an electrical chassis for a number of our bodies, and a conveyable charging resolution, Blue Arc Energy Dice, by mid-2023.
Photograph by Chris Brown
For Morgan’s refrigerated our bodies, fleets can spec a secondary computerized slide-up door to maintain contents cool with out having to shut the swing door.
Telematics Swims Upstream
An ongoing development in telematics is the transition from aftermarket modems to factory-installed OEM modems, and the flexibility for fleets to entry quite a few functions from a single pane of glass. The evolution is selecting up pace within the work truck area.
Navistar introduced factory-installed telematics on all its new Class 6 to eight Worldwide vans. The modems will combine with Navistar’s proprietary linked providers platform, which incorporates 30 telematics associate integrations. The platform’s open structure permits it to combine with all makes and fashions of automobiles available on the market.
Additionally on the present, Geotab announced a new partnership with Free2move, the fleet, mobility, and linked knowledge arm of Stellantis. The answer will use embedded telematics in Stellantis automobiles that integrates car knowledge from Free2move servers into Geotab’s platform. Fleet managers will get one unified dashboard and have entry to the Geotab Market, a portfolio of apps and integrations from third events.
You’ll hear extra about different manufacturing unit integrations quickly, together with a tie up between main automaker and telematics supplier that wasn’t fairly prepared for showtime. The largest connectivity integration so far may very well be in automotive rental, as Hertz introduced a take care of a “third-party telematics supplier” to attach primarily its whole fleet.
EV Pickup Wars Are on Like …
The three electric pickups for fleets — Chevrolet Silverado EV, Ford F-150 Lightning, and Lordstown Motors Endurance — grabbed consideration on the present ground. The Silverado EV was the shiny new entrant, whereas Lordstown unveiled a pre-production model of Endurance, a extra refined model of its Alpha mannequin.
Deliveries of the F-150 Lightning formally start later this spring. Endurance is slated for the third quarter of 2022, whereas GM will begin delivering the Silverado EV in spring 2023. We’ll have to attend for more information on the Ram electrical 1500, which is scheduled for launch in 2024.
Let the EV pickup wars start — although the overwhelming majority of models received’t begin flowing till subsequent 12 months, as this 12 months’s allocation is hand chosen and in small numbers. After all, this doesn’t consider unexpected provide chain points.
We’ll exit this weblog with a snapshot on how these three fashions stack up on specs, not less than on paper. Observe that the up to date Endurance specs got to me on the present ground by Lordstown; Silverado EV WT and F-150 Lightning Professional specs can be found on-line. Specs can differ considerably between work truck fashions and different trim ranges and battery configurations.
Bear in mind, a spec-to-pricing comparability for these vans at this level nonetheless includes quite a few variables, together with supplier markups and the way a lot you’ll pay past the bottom worth to realize prime capacities and efficiency.