Arrival is a UK based electric vehicle developer that started operations in 2015. The company is preparing to launch four battery electric vehicles over the next few years. The first of these is an electric bus, due to go into production in late 2021, followed later by a large van, small van and passenger car. The company claims to have offered its offerings at competitive prices to compete with internal combustion engine vehicles, and says the total cost of ownership will be much lower.
It started with the idea of Russian entrepreneur Denis Sverdlov, the former CEO of Yota, a Russian broadband company. In addition to its London headquarters, Arrival also has a second headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina and an R&D facility in Banbury, UK. Arrival is not aiming to open large central manufacturing facilities, but instead plans to build its vehicles in a number of small “microfactories” to reduce start-up time and improve the company’s agility.
Since the first models are aimed directly at the commercial vehicle sector – first a bus, then a van – Arrival will sell vehicles in an increasingly competitive segment. Bus manufacturers like BYD and Daimler have already introduced a number of electrified options, and corporations like Stellantis and Renault-Nissan have already launched electrified vans for local delivery routes. Arrival aims to beat these competitors as its vehicles have a less compromised “clean sheet” design.
The arrival may only have existed for a few years, but it has already attracted some major investments from the automotive and other industries. Most notable is a $ 100 million investment announced in early 2020 by Korean automaker Hyundai. This has opened a strategic partnership between the two companies, in which both Hyundai and Kia will use Arrival components and technologies to electrify their vehicle fleets. The arrival, meanwhile, will benefit from the sheer global presence and economies of scale that Hyundai has achieved.
Like many start-ups in the field of electric vehicles, Arrival wanted to take advantage of the bubbling investor hype in the industry. This enthusiasm is driven by novel companies like Tesla, which, despite the extreme barriers to entry, have been able to enter the automotive industry and significantly disrupt it. Tesla has been rewarded for its bold strategy with a company valuation that far exceeds its current sales and is instead driven by the promise of even bigger sales in the future. Some mutual funds looking for “the next Tesla” have given these EV startups a public listing by merging with Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs).
Arrival itself merged with CIIG Merger Corp in March 2021 to be listed on the Nasdaq. The listing brought Arrival gross proceeds of $ 660 million to pursue its plan to expand production and introduce new models. As of the listing, the company’s valuation was around $ 13 billion, a sharp increase from the $ 5.4 billion valuation it received in November 2020.
In January 2020, Arrival signed a contract with the US logistics company United Parcel Service (UPS) for the delivery of 10,000 custom-made electric delivery vehicles to the company. UPS reserves the option to increase this order by an additional 10,000 units in the future if necessary. Currently, Arrival claims to have more than $ 1.2 billion in total in existing orders – it predicts the company will be profitable by 2023 and reach $ 14.1 billion in revenue by 2024.
Something that sets Arrival apart from its competitors is the decision to pursue a microfactory strategy. These plants are smaller, cheaper and faster to set up than a complete factory and can be built in close proximity to their end users. Arrival says this approach allows the company to be more adaptable than its competitors and better able to adapt to the needs of its customers.
While a typical car factory will take years to build and huge reserves of cash will be required, Arrival says their factories can be set up to produce vehicles in just six months after construction begins. This means that each factory requires lower production volumes to become profitable and it is easier to customize something in the design of the vehicle or in the production process to suit the customer’s needs. Likewise, each Arrival vehicle factory, thanks to its improved agility, can be customized to better serve its specific local customers with custom built vehicles.
Arrival points to vertical integration as a particular strength. The company notes that many competitors use branded core components to save R&D costs, but Arrival says it means components can cost the OEM more during the term of the supply contract. With Arrival’s approach, the company has developed most of the core components in-house and expects 60% of the components of its upcoming electric van to be vertically integrated into the company.
It has also focused on recyclability throughout the life of the vehicle. One of the many innovative processes is equipping his models with body parts made of polypropylene (plastic). These panels are faster and easier to shape than metal panels, and most importantly, they are produced in their finished color – this means the factory can leave the paint shop off the production line, which saves space and time when building a vehicle. The panels can be fully recycled if they are damaged or the vehicle reaches the end of its useful life.
So far, Arrival has announced a line-up with four vehicles that will be introduced gradually over the next two years. The company’s production focus will initially be on commercial vehicles, but could later expand to other light vehicle types.
The first model, expected later in 2021, is a single deck electric bus. According to Arrival, the bus has space for 80 to 125 passengers and will have a range of 150 to 250 miles, depending on the size of the battery. First Group, a UK transport company, has announced that it will test the Arrival buses later in 2021, in line with its announced strategy of not buying diesel buses after 2022 and completely eliminating exhaust emissions by 2035. The arrival bus is facing competition from a number of competitors, including UK ADL, which has a JV agreement with China’s BYD to manufacture electric buses in the UK.
The bus is followed by two vans – one a little smaller, the other a little larger – which should go into production in the second half of 2022. The smaller model offers a payload of up to 2,000 kg with a range of 93 to 211 miles depending on the battery size. The larger version increases the payload to a maximum of 4,000 kg and, thanks to the longer wheelbase, can accommodate more batteries under the chassis for a range of up to 250 miles.
While the battery details have yet to be fully confirmed, Arrival is expected to use cylindrical Li-ion cells from LG Energy Solution. According to reports, all Arrival vans have the ability to use DC fast charge at speeds up to 120kW – typically enough to get an 80 percent charge in under 40 minutes. Finished arrival vans are likely to be very similar in design and construction to the nine prototypes that were delivered to the UK’s Royal Mail for assessment in 2017 or the 35 prototypes that UPS turned over for testing across Europe in 2019.
The fourth concept of Arrival is a light passenger car. Given that companies like Tesla have captured large swaths of the electric car market, Arrival will not gain a foothold on the Californian company’s territory. Instead, Arrival’s passenger car is clearly aimed at fleet buyers and for this purpose it entered into a partnership with ride-hail giant Uber in May 2021. As part of the partnership, Arrival will develop an electric vehicle specifically designed for their use in collaboration with Uber drivers. Arrival notes that a typical ride-hail vehicle travels about 30,000 miles per year, far more than the 7,500 the average private vehicle travels, so comfort and utility are critical. According to Arrival, the vehicle should offer a range of up to 186 miles and should start production in the second half of 2023.