New British-built Arrival electric van: in-depth info, official pics and more

  • Brand new zero-emissions van with up to 211-mile range, 1,975kg payload
  • Priced to compete with diesel vans, designed to last longer, cheaper to run
  • We speak to Arrival van head of product to find out more

We've been finding out more about the new Arrival electric van, which is set to begin public trials in summer 2021 ahead of going into full production in 2022. This purpose-built 100% electric van promises impressive payload and driving range, lots of customisation, upgradeable components, and a price ‘comparable’ with traditional diesel rivals.

Those rivals include the Ford Transit and Mercedes Sprinter, given the Arrival van’s size. And though both those competitors are – or soon will be – available as electric models, Arrival is hoping its clean-sheet design will win favour over the likes of the eSprinter and E-Transit in the battle to convince van drivers to switch to electric.

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First things first: who or what is Arrival?

Arrival describes itself as a ‘global technology company creating electric vehicles using its game-changing technologies’. Based in the UK and the USA, the firm is planning to build electric buses and vans using its own designs and software.

Presently, some 1,700 people work for Arrival - so it's no start-up - and approximately 80% of these are engineers, drawing experience from the aerospace and robotics industries as well as automotive.

Sticking with the van, the design and construction is such that it can be built in what Arrival calls ‘microfactories’ – including the one it’s setting up in Bicester, Oxfordshire – rather than needing a traditionally massive and costly manufacturing plant.

The flexibility of these microfactories combined with the materials used and the way the van is designed will help Arrival achieve pricing that means buyers won't be penalised for choosing electric power over diesel.

At the same time, it’s promising that the materials and technologies will offer greater durability – extending the van’s life expectancy – as well as ‘new levels of comfort’ and ‘elevated’ connectivity.

We've been speaking to Arrival's van head of product, Partrick Bion, for more details.

Constructed in a very different way

As you can see from the pictures, the Arrival van has a slightly unconventional look – but it’s what’s underneath that really matters.

Arrival electric van, 2022, side view

Built around an aluminium frame and ‘proprietary’ composite body panels (saving the cost of licencing the tech from anyone else; the same strategy explaining the in-house design and development of so much of this van), the basic structure is said to be both light and resistant to the kind of day-to-day damage that vans endure.

Clarifying this further, Bion explains that the colour of the panels is molded-in rather than painted. So not only is there no metal to reveal if you scrape the side of an Arrival van, each panel is coloured right through; even damage that doesn't just pop out won't show up so obviously.

What's more, panels that need replacing can be produced in '24 minutes' and are attached using structural adhesive. Meaning no need to hold stock of these parts, no need to cut damage out, no need for welding, and no need to paint. Which in many cases will mean no need for specialist repair facilities - a regular workshop will be able to do much of the work.

What are the specs of the Arrival electric van?

Thanks to the lightweight design, which saves around 200kg compared with a conventional van structure, even with heavy batteries on board the Arrival van is said to offer highly competitive payload ratings of up to 1,975kg.

The plan is to make it available in a choice of four body lengths (L1, L2, L3 and L4) and three roof heights (H1, H2 and H3) – and with four different sizes of battery pack.

So far we only have full dimensions information for the L3 H3 Arrival van:

  • > Exterior length: 5,790mm
  • > Exterior height: 2,730mm
  • > Exterior width with / without mirrors: 2,340 / 2,075mm
  • > Exterior width with e-mirrors: 2,075mm
  • > Wheelbase: 3,550mm
  • > Front overhang: 925mm
  • > Rear overhang: 1,315mm
  • > Ground clearance: 180mm
  • > Turning circle (kerb-to-kerb): 12.9m

The only interior dimensions provided so far are the loading length of 3,450mm and cargo volume of 14.0 cubic metres (both for the L3 H3 version).

Arrival has also said that L1 models will be 5.1m long and L4 models 6.5m in length.

Powered by a 120kW electric motor (equivalent to 163hp), the Arrival electric van is front-wheel drive (FWD), with a top speed of 75mph.

What’s the driving range?

The four battery pack options offer the following predicted driving ranges and payload ratings for the L3 H3 model:

 Battery size 67kWh 89kWh 111kWh 139kWh
 Driving range   112 miles   149 miles   180 miles   211 miles 
 Gross vehicle weight  4,250kg
 Kerb weight  2,275kg   2,395kg   2,515kg   2,635kg 
 Max payload  1,975kg   1,855kg   1,735kg   1,615kg 

 

Those are WLTP range figures – but only predicted ones at this stage. Still, a maximum driving range of 211 miles that also manages a payload of 1,615kg is a seriously impressive claim, and one that should have all the established van brands taking Arrival very seriously.

It helps that as an electric van, Arrival is able to give its van a 4,250kg gross vehicle weight (GVW) while still allowing ordinary car licence holders to drive it; diesel models are limited to 3,500kg GVW.

Arrival electric van, 2022, load area with integrated shelving and door in bulkhead

No charging times have been given yet, but the Arrival van has up to 120kW DC charging capability and up to 11kW AC charging capability, which is once again very competitive versus all rivals at this point in time.

Offering such a wide choice of modular battery sizes means buyers will be able to better balance their driving range requirements against the purchase price of the van.

What’s going on with the door mirrors?

In the pictures here, the van is fitted with ‘e-mirrors’ (as Arrival calls them) – cameras that replace the conventional mirrors, improving aerodynamics and efficiency, and therefore also driving range.

This may seem far-fetched, but the technology is already used in some production cars and trucks.

Arrival electric van, 2022, side view, sliding passenger door open, bulkhead door open, studio

The vehicle pictured is what Bion describes as the 'walk-in van'. Designed for parcel delivery and courier firms - which makes sense as UPS is one of the companies that has already committed to ordering a large number of Arrivals - this has a sliding front passenger-side door and a walk-through bulkhead.

This allows the driver to access the load area - which is lined with integral shelving - without leaving the vehicle. And means they can step out of the van on the kerb side very easily.

More conventional panel van designs will follow, with Bion explaining that another advantage to the construction and manufacturing process is that such modifications can be undertaken relatively easily. Other unusual features, such as the single, top-mounted windscreen wiper will remain, and are indicative of the clean-sheet thinking that has been employed in the Arrival's design.

The e-mirrors are also just one element of the high-technology offering that Arrival plans for this van. This covers all the latest advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) you’d expect from a brand new van – such as autonomous emergency braking, blindspot monitoring, traffic sign recognition, lane-keeping assistance, 360-degree surround-view cameras – plus advanced connectivity for fleet management.

This includes ‘in-house components’ using Arrival’s ‘proprietary software’ that have ‘real-time health monitoring and predictive maintenance to reduce downtime’. Meaning the van can self-assess for problems and faults, alert you ahead of time and hopefully avoid leaving you stranded at the side of the road.

Arrival electric van, 2022, cab interior

On top of this, Arrival says the cabin will come with a massive 15.6-inch touchscreen interface to relay vehicle data to the driver ‘in an optimal fashion’, and be available with full climate-control as well as heated seats.

Bion says that the van is designed to exceed all regulatory requirements for occupant and battery safety, but that the intention is that the on-board technology will help it avoid an accident in the first place. 

What was that about durability and upgrades?

We don’t have any warranty info or specifics at the moment, but Arrival claims the composite panels and aluminium frame construction will last much better than a conventional steel van.

This sounds like similar materials to those used by the LEVC VN5 electric van based on the London taxi, and the makers of that offer not only a lengthy five-year / 150,000-mile warranty but also claim the VN5 should last twice the working life of conventional rivals.

Arrival electric van, 2022, dead-on front view

Where Arrival goes even further is by saying it will be possible to upgrade its van’s components over time, in order to make sure the latest technology is always available to operators.

We queried Bion for some more detail on this, and he explained the van will feature 'over-the-air' software updates, ensuring that all the latest safety innovations and other digital upgrades will be available to every Arrival van.

But more than this he explained that the vehicle is designed around various fixed 'box volumes', and that the major components fit within these.

As an example of what this means, as battery technology advances, newer batteries could be swapped in to replace the old ones - or, if you buy an Arrival van with one of the smaller battery options but decide you need more range, a bigger battery can easily be installed.

Also worth noting is that the Arrival van has fully independent suspension all round, which should be good news for comfort. Until we have details of this, however, it may make some potential customers nervous about its durability with consistently heavy payloads.

How much does the Arrival van cost – and can I buy one?

There is no official pricing at this stage. But Arrival is on record saying the van will have a price comparable to ‘fossil fuel vehicles’ – which is already a good start, as most electric vans cost more than diesel models..

Arrival also says that TCO (total cost of ownership) should be ‘substantially lower’. This is also true of other electric vans, since electricity is cheaper per mile than diesel (depending on how you charge; public charges can be very expensive) and servicing costs can be as much as 40% lower - but Bion says Arrival will even offer TCO savings versus electric rivals.

Bion also confirmed that Arrival does plan to make the van available to the 'open market' - meaning regular retail customers. The initial focus has been on large fleets, because the scale of orders involved has given Arrival some financial stability (which makes sense), but the aim is to improve the electric van experience for everyone, not just big corporations.

There are no plans for a dealer network, however. Instead, vans will be sold directly by Arrival, and servicing - for which the van has less requirements that traditional rivals - will handled by Arrival and partners.

Production of the Arrival van is officially set to start in the third quarter of 2022. We're pretty excited about its potential, and look forward to bringing you more news on this new electric van very soon.

Also read:

>> Best electric vans

>> The Parkers guide to electric vans

>> Electric vans coming soon

>> Ford E-Transit official details and specs