A shortage of CEVs is expected over the next few years. - Kampus Productions

A shortage of CEVs is expected over the next few years.

Kampus Productions

Fleet customers are saying they can't access enough electric vans from legacy automakers, which were slow to embrace EV alternatives and get needed supplies to make them. That has opened the door for other electric commercial vehicle manufacturers, including those based in other countries. 

Delivery-van startup Packfleet reportedly uses only ECVs to deliver packages in London for both large and small corporate customers seeking a zero-emission experience for consumers, according to Reuters. In 2022, Packfleet saw an exponential expansion, and most of its 53-vehicle fleet were Maxus vans. The company is striving to double its fleet this year.

When Packfleet tried to find its first ECVs in late 2021, most dealers were not interested because legacy brand vans had a 12-month waiting list, CEO Tristan Thomas told Reuters. Recently, the company gained access to more Peugeot, Ford and Citroen ECVs, but Thomas says it must act fast to secure them.

SAIC told Reuters it sold 18,000 mostly electric Maxus brand vehicles in Western Europe and Scandinavia last year, including buses and pickup trucks.  The company also reported plans to expand further into Central Europe areas.

Statistics provided to Reuters by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that in 2022 Maxus had around 6% of Europe's new ECV market, including the UK, selling nearly 5,000 ECVs. That total adds up to more than Ford, Nissan and Fiat combined, and is 28% higher than in 2021.

Geely's van brand, Farizon, also will start delivering vans in Europe in 2024, and is hoping to gain market share.

B-ON, the company that acquired the StreetScooter ECV brand from Deutsche Post subsidiary DHL, is increasing production in both Germany and the United States. General Motors Co's Bright drop van brand, a U.S. vehicle maker, is manufacturing the same vehicle at its Ontario, Canada site.

"There is no magic wand to fix this, we just need to get the manufacturers up to speed," Tim Albertsen, CEO of ALD, told Reuters. "For the next couple of years there will not be enough supply of ECVs."

Out of the eight electric commercial vehicles owned by the UK supermarket chain Asda, seven are Maxus models, and the other one is a Ford. Sean Clifton, the fleet manager, has an extra 50 Ford vans and 20 Maxus vans on order, with the need for more coming quickly as Asda moves to electrify its 1,300 delivery vans.

He told Reuters he wants electric Mercedes chassis vans but said they will not arrive until 2024, not 2022 as originally promised. However, a spokesperson from Mercedes-Benz, said it deliberately concentrated on electric commercial vehicles for package delivery first and that the chassis cab version will launch as planned in 2024.

A representative for Iveco Group, an Italian manufacturer of trucks, vans and buses, said it plans to manufacture thousands of its new eDAILY ECV model this year. The spokesperson told Reuters production of vans has been slowed by a lack of components and high prices for raw materials.

John Cleworth, the commercial vehicle marketing director of Renault, declared the company expects no delays for conventional and electric vans.

Steven Merkt, who is in charge of transportation solutions at leading provider TE Connectivity, said that besides being delayed with ECV models, legacy automakers are giving preference to large-volume passenger models instead of minivans because of the limited availability of EV battery material.

"The Chevy Silverado, the Mercedes EQS, the Ford F-150 Lightning, are existential questions for these companies, the vans are not," Merkt told Reuters. "If Ford loses that (F-150 Lightning) fight, Ford doesn't exist. That's the reality."

Ford's UK head, Tim Slatter, reported the automaker underestimated demand for its E Transit and is racing to catch up. Slatter stressed that it's challenging to upgrade EV production for all models, which is why, for instance, the automaker will discontinue its Ford Fiesta hatchback in Europe this year.

Ford has unveiled a new, smaller electric courier van aimed at business customers in Europe.

Arrival and Canoo were two electric startups that looked promising but failed to stay on track after investing considerable amounts of money. Maxus, Farizon and BrightDrop, however, report having plenty of financial support.


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