- Electric cargo vans lie at the intersection of several automotive and urban trends.
- They’re efficient, emissions free, and fit perfectly within existing EV charging networks.
- Morgan Stanley says recent investments by Amazon, GM, and others could be an inflection point for the segment.
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Move over trucks and crossover SUVs, there’s a new hot vehicle in town, and it’s not what you might have guessed.
With cities becoming more congested, increasing emissions rules, and an uptick in home delivery thanks to the coronavirus, electric delivery vans are set to take center stage, according to Morgan Stanley. And it’s more than just the automakers racing to build the perfect one.
“Delivery vans have highly predictable routes, conduct high-value services, operate at a high utilization, and generally stay within a specific geographic area,” Adam Jonas, the bank’s autos analyst, said in a note to clients. “All of which fits well within EV infrastructure and charging ecosystems which enable their full economic use.”
So far, however, electric vehicles have largely remained constrained to the high-end consumer market. The most obvious example, of course, being Tesla, which handily outsells other EV makers in most markets, especially the United States. Cargo vans like Mercedes’ Sprinter, on the other hand, have found their place in the market but remain gasoline-powered.
Amazon’s decision to order 100,000 electric delivery vans from the upstart Rivian while also investing in the company was a turning point, Morgan Stanley says. The bank also points to Reuters’ report this week of a GM electric van as a potential infection point. Commercial vehicles are among the most profitable businesses for Detroit automakers, which have clearly seen Tesla’s planned Cybertruck as eventual competition.
“It’s going to be similar to what the Model 3 has done for the consumer market,” Scott Phillippi, a senior director of fleet maintenance and engineering, told the wire service.. “Now all of a sudden, we’re off to the races.”
But “it has not been all smooth sailing recently for EV vans though,” Morgan Stanley warns. Specifically, DHL’s cancelled StreetScooter program was “arguably the most successful EV van program to be commercialized so far … however, we believe the number of potential new entrants into the space shows significant momentum.”