The UK-based startup EV Arrival is working with Uber to develop an electric car that will be “specially designed” for travel. Arrival plans to put the car into production at the end of 2023 and says it will not be exclusive to Uber. Instead, the startup says the goal is to create an affordable vehicle that will appeal to millions of drivers around the world.
This is another vote of confidence in Arrival, which just became a publicly traded company in March after merging with a special acquisition company or SPAC. Founded in 2015, Arrival also develops electric delivery vans (with UPS as customer) and buses. There is also support from Hyundai and Kia.
Arrival and Uber have released several images of the interior of the new car and said that the final design will be revealed by the end of the year. Between now and then, companies plan to include some drivers in the design process.
What irritates the published images is not some radical rethinking of what a car should look like on the inside – in fact, compared to the concept cars we see every year at car shows around the world, it’s quite familiar. The dashboard has a large horizontal screen similar to that in Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y (and the upcoming refresh of the Model S and Model X), and the steering wheel is also quite similar to that found in Tesla, with only two wheels for scrolling and without driver display.
But there are a few subtle differences that, upon arrival, can improve the driving experience for both drivers and passengers. The driver’s seat is ergonomically designed to relieve the physical strain of sitting in a car for hours. The front passenger seat folds down to create more legroom. At the rear there is a bench-style seat that makes it easier to get in and out of the car. And on the inside of each door there are small, illuminated cubes and railings.
The goal is to make “hundreds of small design improvements, changes, and refinements that may not have been implemented before,” according to Tom Elwidge, Arrival’s senior vice president of mobility.
Electric vehicles can make a lot of sense in welcome settings. They tend to have fewer moving parts than internal combustion cars and therefore require less maintenance and upkeep. They are also compatible in nature with the zero-emission zones that have been adopted in cities across Europe, as well as with the broader internal combustion bans that are on the horizon. Currently, electric vehicles are more expensive than the cheapest or hybrid internal combustion cars.
The goal is to design an affordable vehicle from the start, says Elwidge, although Arrival believes it can greatly reduce the cost of producing electric vehicles by using so-called “micro-factories” or highly automated low-footprint equipment. where he plans to build his vehicles.
Arrival has yet to prove that the strategy can work. Like many of his peers at SPAC, he is still in the development phase and has not yet sold any production vehicles. Uber has quietly crashed into a number of electric starters over the past few years, but has never made deals, although it has recently split a number of money-losing divisions, such as the one focused on autonomous vehicles and the one dedicated to flying taxis. Then the partnership with Arrival could be a sign that it is ready to try to fulfill its promise to make 100 percent of its trips in electric vehicles in the United States, Canada and Europe by 2030 – a goal that Uber said it would achieve through partnerships with various companies in the transport industry.