Seven of UK supermarket chain Asda’s eight ECVs are Maxus models, the other is a Ford. Fleet manager Sean Clifton has 50 additional Ford vans and 20 Maxus vans on order, but will need more soon as Asda electrifies its 1,300 delivery vans.
Clifton wants electric Mercedes chassis cab vans, but he said while those were initially slated for 2022, they will not arrive until 2024.
A Mercedes-Benz spokesman said the automaker deliberately focused on ECVs for package delivery first and the chassis cab version will launch on time in 2024.
A spokesman for Italian truck, van and bus maker Iveco Group said it should produce several thousand of its new eDAILY ECV model this year, adding that van production has been hit by component shortages and high raw material costs.
There is no difference in delays for conventional and electric vans at Renault, said commercial vehicle marketing director John Cleworth.
Steven Merkt, head of transportation solutions at major supplier TE Connectivity, said as well as being late with ECV models, legacy automakers are prioritizing big-volume passenger models over vans amid tight EV battery material supply.
“The Chevy Silverado, the Mercedes EQS, the Ford F-150 Lightning, are existential questions for these companies, the vans are not,” Merkt says. “If Ford loses that (F-150 Lightning) fight, Ford doesn’t exist. That’s the reality.”
Ford’s UK head, Tim Slatter, said the carmaker had underestimated demand for its E Transit and is racing to catch up. Slatter said boosting EV production across an entire model lineup is difficult, which is why, for instance, the carmaker will discontinue its Ford Fiesta hatchback in Europe this year.
“It’s a major challenge and you have to take some tough decisions,” Slatter said. “Otherwise you’re just spread too thin.”
Last week Ford unveiled a new, smaller electric Courier van aimed at winning business customers in Europe, and boxing out startups.
Some electric startups such as Arrival or Canoo, which showed early promise, have burned through mountains of cash and fallen behind.
But Maxus, Farizon and BrightDrop have deep-pocketed backers.
BrightDrop CEO Travis Katz said scaling production is an “incredibly challenging and expensive process,” but with GM’s backing the company is on track to hit an annual capacity target of 50,000 vehicles by 2025.
After buying StreetScooter, B-ON has retained DHL as an anchor customer. Last year, B-ON produced around 2,500 ECVs and is ramping up production in Germany via contract manufacturer Neapco and in California with EV maker Karma Automotive.
The company is raising $100 million in working capital and within two to three years B-ON expects annual capacity of 60,000 ECVs split evenly between Europe and the United States, said CEO Stefan Krause.
“This will be a supply-driven market for a very long time,” Krause said. “There will be a lot of room for many competitors.”