Arrival, the UK-based commercial electric vehicle company, unveiled the prototype of its purpose-built ride-hailing electric vehicle on Thursday on the blog line Sessions: Mobility stage. Perhaps best known for its potentially revolutionary goal of building multiple automated micro-factories to produce vehicles regionally and locally rather than one large production line, the company is making the cars in partnership with Uber in the UK.

Arrival president Avinash Rugoobur, who joined blog line’s Kirsten Korosec on the podium on Wednesday, also shared that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with Breathe, a UK car subscription company, to make the ride-hail cars available to drivers. In addition to selling vehicles through Breathe, Arrival will also sell the car through its channels, Rugoobur said, noting that the vehicle is not limited to ride-hail.

The partnership with Uber was first announced a year ago, and Arrival revealed the final design of the boxy-yet-sleek electric vehicle in late 2021, which resembles something between a small van and a hatchback. However, Rugoobur said the plan has changed since then. It was slightly changed. Arrival has previously said it hopes to begin production at its Charlotte, North Carolina, plant in the third quarter of 2023.

TC Sessions

“We’re working with Uber, and we have the Uber drivers come in and give us feedback on the type of vehicles they want to use and go through the pain,” Rugoobur said on Thursday. “What’s happening now is you must buy a vehicle that isn’t designed for ride-sharing, right? So you buy a regular retail car and then use it as your earner. It’s an asset to you as an Uber driver, but it’s not built around it; it’s not easy to clean or maintain. How you think about adding new experiences to that is quite limited.”

View of Arrival’s ride-hail car. Image Credits: Arrival

The vehicle, which Arrival says has a range of more than 200 miles, was built with feedback from more than a hundred Uber drivers, Rugoobur noted. Its design shows huge windows and a massive windshioptimizeizto e visibility. For the driver, as does a short front overhang and slanted nose. The materials Arrival uses for the interior, and the interior components’ shapes are all designed to be easy to clean as quickly as possible, Rugoobur said.

Plus, while there’s a touchscreen near the handlebars that plugs into the back of Uber (or that of any other ride-hail organization), Arrival’s design is all about simplifying the “huge amount of digital equipment” that drivers said it’s “distracting”. And confusing… and wastes a lot of their time,” Rugoobur said.

The passenger experience is also considered here, with luggage space, plenty of legroom, and a high ceiling that creates an airy feeling.

“Why the shape and size of the vehicle? So the footprint is almost that of a Golf, but it has the sitting room of a Maybach,” Rugoobur said. “The reason for that was mobility in cities where there is a lot of journeys, so it was critical to have a slightly smaller vehicle that offers the right amount of space for the driver and passenger.”

Rugoobur pointed out that form follows function with the Arrival car. Arrival, for example, optimizes space with design choices such as folding the front passenger seat and placing all components, such as the powertrain, centrally under the vehicle’s completely flat floor.

“We use new composite materials. That’s why we use polypropylene fiberglass instead of metal,” says Rugoobur. “No metal stamping, no paint shops, 100% recyclable material… and then we write all the software, so we get all the data and the code even from the component level.”

View the interior of Arrival’s ride-hail car with a steering wheel and touchscreen display for drivers. Image Credits: Arrival

Being able to collect data from the back of the vehicle is one of Arrival’s biggest selling points, says Rugoobur, who noted that all the information about any part of the vehicle could go to the driver so they can better operate their car and learn how. Driver behavior affects things like battery life and the total cost of ownership. The data will also be shared with Uber so the ride-hailing company can better optimize its fleet and, of course, back to Arrival so the company can understand the performance of things like its battery management system.

Because there is “two-way communication” between Arrival and the vehicles, the EV startup can use information about how different components are performing and, if necessary, exchange damaged hardware or upgrade it to keep up with tomorrow’s innovations.

“For the drivers, that lowers the total cost of ownership but also improves the residual value at the end of its life because you refresh the vehicle,” Rugoobur said.

“It’s very difficult for the traditional players to custom build a vehicle like this, while for us because essentially we’ve created this toolkit of technologies and our factory can produce in different volumes, where you normally have up to 300,000 should produce only for If it makes sense from a business perspective, we can do it on a different scale and then scale it up as we need to,” the executive added.

Arrival’s ride-hail bus will be priced somewhere between an internal combustion engine and a competitive electric vehicle, according to Rugoobur. Recalling that most EVs are branded as luxury vehicles and come with a high upfront price, Rugoobur said the goal is to make the car “affordable, affordable and unaffordable by [total cost of ownership]†

In comparison, General Motors and Honda recently teamed up to build an affordable EV, which Honda estimates would cost about $30,000.

Arrival said earlier this month that the planned electric bus model has been certified by the European Union and is conducting closed courses. Customer models are expected to be produced in the second half of this year. The startup also said its Van model is almost certified and will likely go into production in the third quarter of this year.

Arrival expects to produce 400 to 600 vans plus a small production of buses in the second half of 2022, according to the company’s first quarter 2022 earnings report. The report also states that Arrival in May totaled 143,000 non-binding letters of intent and has collected orders for its vehicles, including UPS’s commitment to purchase up to 10,000 cars from the startup in the US and Europe.


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