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June 4, 2020 2:45 PM, EDT

GM to Build All-Electric Work Van; Production Set for Late 2021

A sign outside GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant.A sign outside GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant. (Anthony Lanzilote/Bloomberg News)

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General Motors Co. will build another all-electric vehicle at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant as it sticks to its goal for an all-electric future.

Plans include an all-electric van for businesses such as Amazon.com and UPS Inc., Reuters reported June 4.

The Free Press was first to report in December that in the new four-year contract with the UAW, GM said Detroit-Hamtramck would produce an electric van.

The van is code-named BV1. GM is expected to start production in late 2021, Reuters said. It likely will share some components such as new Ultium advanced battery system with GM’s other future electric pickups and SUVs to be built at Detroit-Hamtramck, the report said.

GM spokesman Stuart Fowle said the company is not confirming the report.

“General Motors is committed to an all-electric future and is implementing a multisegment, scalable EV strategy to get there,” Fowle said in an email to the Free Press on June 4. “At this time, we do not have any announcements to make regarding electric commercial vehicles.”

GM is investing $3 billion to retool Detroit-Hamtramck and has said it will build an electric pickup there that is due late next year. It will be sold by GMC dealers under a Hummer name. GM has said it will build several other electric vehicles at the plant, which is scheduled to reopen in about a year.

According to Reuters, GM is undecided whether it will offer the electric van through Chevrolet and GMC or sell it under a different brand such as Maven.

For the Detroit automakers, pickups and commercial vehicles bring in big profits. In this case, an electric van means beating Tesla to it. Last fall, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, in a series of tweets, hinted that his electric car company might be interested in launching an all-electric work van, reports said.

Besides winning that race, an electric work van would allow GM to join Ford Motor Co. and at least two EV startups, such as Plymouth-based Rivian, to sell electric vans as they wait for consumer demand for the vehicles to grow.

In February, Ford said it would offer an electric version of its Transit model. The van is expected for model year 2022.

Rivian, of which Ford is an investor, is expected to start building the first of 100,000 midsize electric vans for Amazon next year, Reuters said. UPS has commissioned 10,000 midsize electric vans from Arrival, a British startup. Arrival is backed by Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.

The Amazon and UPS contracts with Rivian and Arrival are worth at least $4 billion combined, Reuters said.

UPS ranks No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest for-hire carriers in North America and No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 50 list of the largest logistics companies.

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