Most electric vehicle startups are shooting for the starts, with global production at a massive scale, to drive down prices to compete with ICE vehicles.
London-based Arrival is turning all that on its head with a very different approach to building electric vehicles. The company is focusing its products on commercial applications, a fairly undeserved portion of the vehicle market, but one that can benefit the most from a transition to electric.
In a new video released by the company, President Avinash Rugoobur takes us through their process of using microfactories, small, nimble and high-tech production facilities, that are the exact opposite of a megafactory like the Gigafactories by Tesla.
Rugoobur says that their way of providing electric vehicles at comparable price to ICE powertrains, it to produce them near where they are required. Where companies need vehicles to be adapted to suit localised used cases, this smaller, more adaptable manufacturing technique allows for that. By comparison, massive factories are constructed to make lots of the same thing, with as little variance as possible.
In dealing with the variances between vehicles, Arrival can reprogram the workflow between parts of the microfactory that the call robotic cells.
Arrival says they can produce vehicles at basically any volume and maintain profitability. To do that, their technology needs to be incredibly smart. One example of that intelligence is how parts move around the factory.
Parts can be placed on autonomous trolleys that take the product to a robot, which uses computer vision to understand the orientation of the part and still pick it up. In a typical factory, the robots are incredibly fussy about how they are provided parts and need to be done in a precise, repeatable way.
The company already has an impressive order book, with delivery service UPS placing an order for 10,000 Arrival vans in Jan 2020. The arrival bus, which looks amazing with is massive curved glass front was recently announced and is currently in testing.
Arrival are also vertically integrated.. like the real version of that, not the Trevor Milton edition. That means Arrival design all of the components in house, the hardware, software, robots. The modular battery, battery management system, traction inverter, DC-DC inverter, and the Human Machine Interface.
Rugoobur says this vertical integration enables them to rapidly adapt new technologies (like autonomy), when the technology is available or desired by the customer.
More information at Arrival.