Arrival, the UK based electric bus and truck startup, has chosen Charlotte, North Carolina as the site for its US headquarters. The company said in a press release this week it will add 150 employees and invest $3 million to establish its corporate outpost in America. The company’s mission is to build electric vehicles that are price competitive with traditional gasoline and diesel powered trucks and buses. It expects its products will also cost less to operate, giving them a lower total cost of ownership than the electric vehicles offered by other manufacturers.
Arrival has developed a standardized battery electric platform is says can accommodate a wide range of vehicles. It also plans to build its products in local minifactories located close to its customers. The first of its US minifactories will be located in Rock Hill, South Carolina, which is only about 30 miles south of Charlotte.
“We are thrilled to welcome Arrival to Charlotte and are excited to partner with them on sustainable initiatives within our community. Their commitment to sustainability falls directly in line with Charlotte’s priority to move towards clean energy,” says Mayor Vi Lyles. “And the job opportunities will offer our residents a career where they will learn innovative new skills in a growing industry.” The company will be hiring for a variety of corporate positions, including human resources, marketing, finance, and administrative professionals, so if you are looking for work in the Charlotte area, you should consider giving Arrival a call.
Mike Ableson, CEO of Arrival Automotive, says “Today’s announcement is another exciting step for Arrival, as we build on our mission to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. I am personally thrilled to be partnering with the City of Charlotte, as we bring our North American Headquarters to the city, and work in tandem to develop solutions for their electrification and sustainability goals. This partnership forms a road map in how we design a regionally Integrated Transportation Ecosystem that pulls together components like EVs, charging infrastructure, and digital mobility services to enable more cities to achieve their zero emission goals, connect local communities and future-proof transportation networks.”
Arrival’s mission fits nicely with Charlotte’s goal of improving sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the city’s Sustainable and Resilient Charlotte by 2050 Resolution enacted in June of 2018. In December 2018, the City Council unanimously adopted a Strategic Energy Action Plan which outlines strategies for clean energy focused on transportation, buildings, energy generation, and workforce development/equity. It also validates North Carolina’s own clean environment goals. Anthony Copeland, the state’s secretary of commerce, says, “Arrival’s selection of Charlotte as the base for its North American operations adds another forward-looking company to our state’s corporate community. The vision and values of this pioneering business fit neatly within North Carolina’s economic strategy for the years ahead.”
Arrival has been selected by UPS to build 10,000 delivery vans in the UK and left the door open for an additional 10,000 in the future. Styling is largely irrelevant to fleet operators like UPS, but the Arrival electric vans are some of the cutest, friendliest ever to set tire to pavement. The design for its electric buses is similarly clean and stylish.
The company has attracted investments from Hyundai and KIA, two companies who are also providing financial support to Canoo, a West Coast EV startup that has also developed its own highly scalable EV platform that can accommodate a wide variety of body styles which the company somewhat whimsically calls “top hats.” Arrival has merged with a SPAC and expects to begin offering shares to the public in January.
Bringing Arrival to Charlotte involved a team effort from the City of Charlotte, Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Community College System, and Duke Energy.
Doug Esamann, Duke Energy executive vice president for energy solutions issued a statement saying, “We are pleased to welcome Arrival to Charlotte, and we are excited to have another local partner committed to clean energy transportation. Electric vehicles play an important role in Duke Energy’s goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This overall strategy includes leading the way for our communities to adopt low carbon, clean energy technologies as well — all of which makes Arrival’s presence in Charlotte more important than ever.”
The microfactory business model is innovative and cuts against traditional business thinking about economies of scale created by gigantic factories in one of two locations. If it succeeds, it may portend a revolution in manufacturing as well as cost competitive electric vehicles.