Report: GM starting electric delivery van program

General Motors electric van

General Motors Co.
is planning an electric delivery van, adding to the list of carmakers and startups planning vehicles for the last-mile delivery segment, according to a Reuters report.

The GM electric van is code-named BV1, the report stated, and is due to go into production in late 2021 at the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory.

GM spokesman Stuart Fowle said the company is not confirming the news. The automaker has said previously that it will build several other electric vehicles at the plant, which is scheduled to reopen in 2021.

“General Motors is committed to an all-electric future and is implementing a multi-segment, scalable EV strategy to get there,” Fowle said in an emailed statement to FreightWaves.  “At this time, we do not have any announcements to make regarding electric commercial vehicles.”

According to the Reuters report, the new delivery vehicle program is an attempt to get ahead of Tesla, the electric vehicle maker that beat GM to the punch on electric passenger cars. 

Tesla does not have an electric delivery van. The company did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment.

Reports of a new GM commercial vehicle come as automakers and startups alike rush to make electric delivery vans, catering to a surge in demand among logistics companies for last-mile delivery solutions. E-commerce giant Amazon arguably kicked off the race last year, with the  announcement that it was ordering 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, with a planned arrival date in 2021.

Ford has announced plans to make a Transit electric van in 2022, while UPS has ordered 10,000 electric delivery vans from the British startup Arrival. Other competitors include Ford, which has plans to make a Transit electric van in 2022.

In a research note released Thursday, Morgan Stanley analysts said they “see the race to develop cost effective EVs intensifying across both passenger and commercial vehicles.”

Delivery vans have an unusually high carbon footprint, the analysts noted — up to 40 metric tons of CO2 emissions per year for a typical large parcel delivery van, compared to under 5 tons for the average U.S. vehicle.

Citing other reasons why the delivery van is a good candidate for electrification, the note said these vehicles perform “high-value services” and typically stay within a specific geographic area, “all of which fits well with EV infrastructure and charging ecosystems which enable their full economic use.”

The note also weighed in on the Tesla advantage, stating that the electric vehicle company could easily leverage existing technologies to build a delievery van, bridging “the product gap between the company’s Cybertruck and the Semi.”

Read more FreightWaves articles by Linda Baker.