EV "microfactory" announced as fuel-efficient shipping fleets take center stage

Both UPS and USPS are eyeing electric vehicles, and recent announcements could mean cleaner, more efficient parcel delivery in the years ahead.

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Image: Arrival

In 2021, electric vehicle sales could make up 2.5% of U.S. retail sales, up from 1.9% in 2020, according to a February Edmunds report. On Wednesday, electric vehicle manufacturer Arrival announced plans to build a "microfactory" in Charlotte, N.C.; the company's second such facility in the U.S. In the years ahead, UPS and USPS could use fuel-efficient vehicles to transform ground shipping.

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"Our newest Microfactory will be producing two different classes of EV vans for our U.S. customers, expanding the zero-emissions options for fleet operators and accelerating the mass adoption of electric vehicles," said Michael Ableson, CEO, Arrival Automotive.

As part of the announcement, Arrival said it would invest about $41.2 million into the facility, which will be able to assemble up to 10,000 electric delivery vans annually. Of the vehicles produced at the Queen City-based microfactory, Arrival said it expects "many" of these units to become part of UPS's North American fleet while noting the parcel shipping company's commitment to "purchase up to 10,000 vehicles from Arrival in the U.S. and Europe."

"We're excited by this significant milestone that will enable UPS to economically deploy electric vehicles throughout our global operations at an increasing pace," said Luke Wake, vice president of maintenance and engineering, UPS Corporate Automotive.

"At UPS, we're laser-focused on finding operational efficiencies. Establishing factories that can quickly serve both the European and North American markets is a masterful use of logistics," Wake continued. "We can't wait to see UPS's new electric vehicles roll out of this factory, as this is also one of many paths UPS is taking to reduce its CO2 emissions."

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The Arrival news comes on the heels of a recent USPS fleet modernization announcement. In February, USPS awarded Oshkosh Defense a 10-year contract, which includes finalizing "the production design" of USPS's Next Generation Delivery Vehicle. USPS said the NGDVs would feature either fuel-efficient combustion engines or "battery electric powertrains" noting that these could be "retrofitted to keep pace with advances in electric vehicle technologies."

Arrival microfactories and impact

In 2020, Arrival announced plans to open a microfactory in Rock Hill, S.C., to build electric buses and said it would locate its North American headquarters in Charlotte's South End. Compared with "conventional factories," Arrival said its microfactories have a reduced footprint, lower capital expenditures and on-site assembly that combines software and hardware developed in-house as part of the company's "vertically integrated approach."

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