GM is planning to develop an electric delivery van that would be used by entities like UPS, Amazon or even the U.S. Postal Service, Reuters was told by people familiar with the matter.
The plan could put GM into the commercial electric vehicle conversation. However, the project, when combined with Ford, Rivian and other EV makers, is a potentially multi-billion-dollar idea that could help the companies build and deliver a substantial amount of electric cars.
It could also help the companies tackle Tesla by targeting a segment the Elon Musk-led company is yet to address. That being said, it should be noted consumer vehicles are much more popular than delivery vans, so there’s not much of a threat for Tesla to be derailed by EVs designed to carry packages.
GM’s plan for a van has not been reported previously. The company, along with Ford, was reportedly advised to keep any plans under wraps. Trucks and commercial vehicles are among the two Detroit-based companies’ most profitable vehicles, and suggestions from suppliers recommended things remain quiet regarding the development of electric vans.
They “don’t want to leave the door open for Tesla,” something the companies both did with consumer passenger vehicles.
The GM van is currently recognized under a pseudonym, the BV1. It is set to start production in late 2021 at the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, according to sources, and it will share several components with GM’s electric pickups and SUVs. One of these is the Ultium battery system.
UPS Senior Director of Fleet Maintenance and Engineering Scott Phillippi said the company believes battery-powered vans have the potential to disrupt the commercial market.
“It’s going to be similar to what the Model 3 has done for the consumer market,” he said.
Even though GM is planning a strong push to develop battery-electric cars within the next few years, there is little evidence its technology will outperform Tesla’s. GM claims it is close to a million-mile battery, a major focal point of Tesla’s battery tech developers for years. But for now, the veteran automaker is yet to prove its EV capabilities in the market.