Lidar Explained

You’ve probably heard reference to “lidar.” Here’s where you can get a quick tutorial

By Gary S. Vasilash

Elon Musk once famously said, “Lidar is a fool’s errand.”

And it went downhill from there.

What was he talking about?

A sensor that uses laser beams.

The sensor sends out pulsed light waves from as many as 128 individual lasers (at an eye-safe frequency, so you need not worry about being blinded by a vehicle coming at you with lidar engaged). The waves hit something and bounce back. The time is calculated (send, hit, return). And the information is used to generate a 3D map of the environment. Realize that there is a lot going on here: this beam bouncing is taking place at a rate of millions of times per second.

Using lasers for sensing. (Image: Velodyne Lidar)

The whole purpose of this is to enhance a vehicle’s ability to be able to provide safer driving—for the people within the vehicle as well as others, be they in other vehicles or on foot. And it can also contribute to self-driving vehicles, with the sensor or sensors (there are some lidar devices that have a 360° view so conceivably only one would be needed on the roof of a vehicle to “see” what’s going on; there are some devices that have more limited view, say 120°, so there would be multiples installed) providing input so that the vehicle can perform accordingly.

3D lidar was invented by David Hall in 2005. He had established a company in 1983 to produce audio subwoofers. What was then Velodyne Acoustics has become Velodyne Lidar.

And on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Mircea Gradu, Velodyne senior vice president of Product and Quality, provides an explanation of lidar—the how, why, where and when of the technology.

One of the things that he really emphasizes in his comments is the importance of lidar when it comes to safety.

He points out, for example, that most vehicle-pedestrian accidents occur after dark. In 2018 76% of pedestrian crash fatalities in the U.S. occurred at night.

Lidar can “see” in the dark. Camera-radar based system don’t have the same level of capabilities. So so far as Velodyne is concerned, any advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) really needs to have lidar sensors as part of its sensing suite. Assuming that the vehicles are going to travel at night.

While Gradu is, not surprisingly, a bit proponent of lidar, he also acknowledges that there needs to be sensor fusion–the use more than just one or two types of sensors. After all, the subject is safety, and who wants to stint?

Gradu talks with Alexa St. John of Automotive News, “Autoline’s” John McElroy and me.

Then during the second half of the show the three of us discuss a number of topics, including the semiconductor shortage and potential solutions, whether companies like GM are putting billions of dollars at risk when they invest heavily in electric vehicles and more.

And you can watch the show right here.

Arrival: The Cleverest EV Company on the Planet?

Making electric commercial vehicles seems to be what several companies are doing. But the approach of this U.K.-based company is unlike what those other companies are doing.

By Gary S. Vasilash

One of the more interesting companies in the electric vehicle space is Arrival, a firm that was founded in London in 2015, where it has its HQ, and which has also established a North American HQ in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Arrival is in the business of developing electric vehicles.

Arrival Automotive CEO Mike Ableson. (Image: Arrival)

Initially a bus (start of production: Q4, 2021). Then a commercial van with a payload up to 4,400 pounds (start of production: Q3, 2022). Then a larger van with a payload up to 8,800 pounds (start of production: Q3, 2022). And eventually a small consumer vehicle (start of production: Q3, 2023).

Here’s one thing that makes these vehicles notable: There is a modular structure so the vehicles can be tailored to the specific user and application. While “special builds” generally drive costs, starting with this design approach helps minimize that.

Here’s one thing that makes the Arrival approach notable: Rather than building these vehicles in conventional automotive assembly facilities that have a stamping plant and paint shop, as Mike Ableson, CEO of Arrival Automotive (and 35-year vet of GM, where his last position was vice president of EV Infrastructure, with a variety of advanced technology, strategy and engineering positions before that), points out on this edition of “Autoline After Hours,” the Arrival approach, known as “microfactories,” is predicated on establishing a manufacturing facility within what would ordinarily be considered a warehouse.

This is low-volume, regional manufacturing.

It will put its first U.S. microfactory, which will start producing buses later this year, in York County, South Carolina. There will be a second in West Charlotte, North Carolina, where as many as 10,000 electric delivery vans will be built, with production starting in the third quarter of 2022. It has another microfactory in Bicester, UK.

The vehicles have proprietary composite body panels so there is no stamping plant needed. The colors are molded in the material so there is no paint shop. The factory utilizes robotic transport vehicles that move from cell to cell so there are no traditional assembly lines. The assembly is done with mechanical fasteners and adhesives so welding equipment isn’t required.

Ableson points out that batteries are a big cost component of all electric vehicles. He also notes that essentially all OEMs are faced with the same type of battery costs. So, he explains, that the way to keep costs down is not only in establishing production capabilities, but also in designing and engineering the vehicles is such a way that they can minimize overall cost.

The company uses the term “radical impact” in relation to what it is doing.

Arguably, if they pull off what they are undertaking, that won’t just be corporate rhetoric but a true statement.

Ableson talks on the show with Joe White of Reuters, Mike Austin of Hemmings and me.

Then White, Austin and I discuss a variety of other subjects, most of which have to do with vehicle electrification claims and efforts being undertaken by companies including Honda, Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors.

And you can see it all here.

Henry Ford’s Soybean Suit and Other Material Marvels

You’d be surprised at what can be done with what might otherwise seem to be organic waste. Like using it to create car parts

By Gary S. Vasilash

Dr. Deborah Mielewski is a Technical Fellow at the Ford Motor Company.

Two things to know about that: (1) Ford employs about 87,000 people in the United States (more if the people from elsewhere are added, but she works in Dearborn, so we’ll use that number). (2) There are 16 Technical Fellows at Ford.

Yes, she is a rare individual.

She obtained her PhD in Chemical Engineering.

You might be thinking: “Technical Fellow. . .one of 16. . .chemical engineering. . .snooze.”

And were you to be, you’d be wrong.

Mielewski, whose focus is on sustainability, is one of the most enthusiastic and engaging individuals who talks about the environment and recycling and closed-loop processes who isn’t on the Discovery Channel or some outlet like that.

In fact, she probably ought to be.

But for the Earth Day episode of “Autoline After Hours” we have Debbie Mielewski talking about what she and her colleagues are doing in the lab to help make the crossovers, trucks and cars that Ford produces more environmentally sound—and doing so in ways that are not, well, what you might imagine.

One of her earlier undertakings was to develop seat foam using soybean oil. Unbeknownst to her at the time, Henry Ford had been a big proponent in using soybean oil for a number of applications, such as in paint and for body panels.

Ford was once so big on soybean that it built a processing plant on the grounds of the Rouge Complex in Dearborn. (Image: Ford)

The foam that they were creating in the lab took a while to come to a usable form (to say nothing of finding a way to attenuate the rather unpleasant fragrance emitted), but they worked at it and the material debuted on the 2008 Mustang.

Then they’ve had a variety of other atypical materials that they’re using.

She says—at least partially in jest—that while driving home from work one Friday night she thought about having a margarita when she got home. And that she would get in touch with Jose Cuervo on Monday to find out whether there might be some materials they could source (other than tequila, that is).

To obtain the juice that turns into the beverage the heart of the agave plant is roasted, ground and compressed. And then there is a whole lot of plant matter, fibrous, left over. While the Jose Cuervo company uses some of it, as do local artisans, there is still a large quantity left over.

The Ford scientists determined that the fibers are good for plastic reinforcement.

She says she likes coffee. Thinking about that led to the discovery that when coffee beans are roasted, their skin, chaff, comes off. Millions of pounds of the stuff. Ford and McDonald’s are working together to use the chaff as a composite reinforcement material instead of the traditional talc. It is lighter. Better. And is otherwise waste.

Wheat straw. Dandelions. Shredded paper currency. These and a whole lot more are being used and investigated by Mielewski and her team.

She tells a story about telling one of her colleagues to go collect some of the post-processed hemp at a Detroit medical marijuana distributor. (He was a bit reticent. . . .) Another fiber that may have application in automotive component production.

This is a fascinating look at a subject that will become only more important explained by someone who has spent more than 30 years of her career working on it.

Mielewski recalls that early on, when some of her other colleagues from the more traditional product engineering teams looked askance at her presentations, Bill Ford, known for his environmental leadership, had her back. Now the whole approach is becoming more pervasive. And not just on April 22.

“Autoline’s” John McElroy, Christie Truett from Wards Intelligence, Lindsay Brooke of Automotive Engineering and I talk with her.

And you can see it here.

Audi’s Approach to Electric Vehicles

The Audi RS e-tron GT produces 590 hp, net. Just sayin’. . .

By Gary S. Vasilash

There are 14 vehicles in the Audi of America lineup. The best-selling model during Q1 was the Q5 crossover, with 14,731 units delivered. The vehicle that had the least amount of sales is the R8 sports car, at 148 units. This gives you a sense of the spread from top to bottom, as Audi sold 54,840 vehicles.

What is surprising is how well the e-tron and e-tron Sportback—electric vehicles—did for the brand, with the former accounting for 3,474 units and the latter 850.

Put another way, electric vehicles are a solid contributor to Audi’s overall sales.

The Audi Q4 e-tron. Part of the company’s electric offensive. It plans to have more EV models for sale in the U.S. by the end of 2021 than any other OEM. (Image: Audi)

And that number is likely to do nothing but increase. This summer the e-tron GT electric sports sedan will launch. With a starting priced of $99,990, odds are the numbers will be low. But there will be numbers.

But before the year is out, there will be two more models added to the electric Audi lineup, the Q4 e-tron and the Q4 Sportback e-tron.

Notably, the Q4 e-tron, a compact crossover, will have a starting price of under $45,000. And then there could be incentives and credits that could put people in an electric Audi for much less.

To learn about what Audi is doing in the EV space, on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” we talk with Matt Mostafaei, the Audi e-tron product manager. (The “we” consists of “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Stephanie Brinley of IHS Markit, and me.)

Mostafaei explains that one of the biggest challenges that they face with regard to getting more people to buy an e-tron is a lack of familiarity that they have with EVs. He suggests that once they’ve an understanding of the advantages that can be realized—like plugging in one’s vehicle at night, analogously to plugging in a phone, so as to have a full charge every morning—as well as the driving dynamics that are provided by an EV*, this will change.

While Tesla is certainly the dominant player in the category, and while Mostafaei says that they’d be glad to have Tesla owners or intenders come into Audi dealerships, he maintains that there is a far greater number of potential customers than just those who have gone the Tesla route.

Just think of all of the people who fuel their vehicles with gasoline. That’s a market.

Audi isn’t adding all of those EVs to its lineup just to be au courant.

As Mostafaei puts it, they see where the market is going and they’re going to help drive it forward.

In addition to which, McElroy, Brinley and I discuss a number of other vehicles, electric and otherwise, as well as the benefits OEMs—and consumers—can realize from tech like Ford’s just-introduced BlueCruise hands-free driving technology, and autonomous driving tech that will be shuttling people in Dubai—and which is shuttling pizzas in suburban Houston.

And you can see it all here.

Creating a Micromobility Company

A surprising story about the use case for electric mopeds

By Gary S. Vasilash

Matt Brueggeman says that when he was growing up in suburban Chicago, his family had three Chevy Tahoes. He acknowledges that they were good vehicles. But he also admits that it occurred to him that the Tahoe wasn’t the most efficient vehicle to transport a single person to, say, go visit a nearby friend or to go pickup a carton of milk.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where he studied Chinese, he moved to Beijing for six years.

While there the absurdity of the Tahoe really became evident to him, as he watched people riding on electric mopeds.

The Flux EM1: It won’t replace a car. But it offers an alternative for those quick trips. (Image: Flux Mopeds)

When he returned to Madison he and his colleagues decided to start a company to allow people to sensibly take local trips. Brueggeman is the co-founder and CEO of Flux Mopeds.

With time, research and development they came up with the Flux EM1. It is an electric moped that has a limited range—50 miles on two batteries. A limited top speed—38 mph. A limited capacity—300 pounds.

It also has a comparatively limited MSRP: $2,400.

And on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Brueggeman talks about how the vehicle came to be and how it is doing in the market. He talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, John Beltz Snyder of Autoblog Green and me.

Brueggeman explains that while the mopeds are produced in China there was extensive engineering developed in the U.S. He says that while the owner of a moped in China can get a broken part fixed by a corner repair shop, that’s not the case in the U.S., so they’ve engineered the units to be as robust and reliable as possible.

He says that the company is keeping its costs down by not selling through dealerships and not carrying inventory: it is build to order.

And while you might think that this is a vehicle that would be on college campuses or being ridden in downtowns by urban hipsters, Brueggeman says that the big market for the company is. . .RV owners. (Why tow a car when you can stick an EM1 on the back?)

If you’re interested in micromobility, you’ve got to watch this show. Right here.

Automotive Encyclopedias

A historian and a design strategist walk into a virtual studio. . . .

By Gary S. Vasilash

If a person who was interested in a career in the auto industry did just one of the things that Karl Ludvigson has done in his time on the scene, that would be a notable accomplishment.

Ludvigson has been a:

  • Designer at General Motors
  • PR guy at GM
  • VP of Corporate Affairs at Fiat Motors of North America
  • Technical editor of Auto Age and Sports Car Illustrated
  • Editor-in-Chief of Car and Driver
  • VP of Ford of Europe

And there are more items on his resume.

In addition to which he has been deeply involved in motor sports, which has given rise to a book shelf worth of tomes on racers including Jackie Stewart, Juan Manuel Fangio, Emerson Fittipaldi and more.

He has written another shelf’s-worth on companies including Porsche and Ferrari, on specific vehicle, and even on vehicle components.

His knowledge of the auto industry is, in a word, breathtaking.

Ostensibly, Ludvigson came on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” to promote his most-recent volume, Fast Friends, in which he writes about an array of people who he had the opportunity to know. But functionally, Ludvigson shares a portion of his wealth of knowledge not only about people he has known, but about the design and development of a number of important vehicles.

Joining him on the show—in addition to “Autoline’s” John McElroy and me—is Jim Hall, a walking Wikipedia of automotive knowledge and recent GM retiree, who was working on strategic design before he departed the automaker.

This is a show where the depth of discussion of, primarily, the recent past of the auto industry is discussed, although how those developments have come to affect what is on the road today is revealed, with a particular emphasis on automotive design, which Ludvigson and Hall are particularly well-versed in.

And while this may sound as though it may be a dry recitation of what once was with a glance at what is, know that it is anything but.

And you can see the show in its entirety here.

Inside the Volkswagen ID.4

A look at the vehicle and the strategy that Volkswagen has for this important electric vehicle

By Gary S. Vasilash

Even though the Volkswagen ID.4 is only now beginning to roll out on American roads (as well as on German autobahns, which one would have imagined would have happened sooner, as the vehicles are built in a plant in Zwickau), people at Volkswagen were evidently certain of the likely success of the electric vehicle as on November 19, 2019, there was a ground breaking for a $800-million, 564,000-sq. ft. facility at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, complex that will be used, in large part, to build EVs, with the ID.4 being the first.

What’s more, they’re in the process of building a plant for assembling battery packs.

Volkswagen ID.4 (Image: Volkswagen)

So to say VW has a lot riding on EVs is not a hackneyed phrase.

What’s interesting about Volkswagen in America is that it has made a decided focus on crossovers.

While there were once the Touareg and Tiguan Limited, it wasn’t as though either of them made much of a dent in the ute market. The Touareg was described as being “the people’s premium SUV” and the Tiguan Limited was, well, limited in its appeal. MY 2017 was the final for both of the vehicles in the U.S.

But VW has subsequently come out with a new Tiguan, the Atlas, the Atlas Cross Sport and the soon-to-arrive Taos. And the ID.4 is also positioned in the utility space.

In 2020 VW sold 325,784 vehicles in the U.S. While it is down 10% from 2019, arguably because of the pandemic, even 2019’s 363,322 units was nothing to necessarily celebrate, especially when you consider, for example, that in 2020 Toyota delivered 430,387 RAV4s. In other words, one vehicle sold nearly 105,000 more units than the entire Volkswagen lineup.

Be that as it may, the SUV lineup is fundamental to the success of VW in the U.S. market as it accounted for 58% of all VW sales in the market. The Tiguan is the only model that had 100,000+ sales in the U.S. in 2020.

So on the one hand, VW wants to sell more SUVs. On the other hand, it wants to sell more EVs. And while the ID.4 is an EV SUV, it still presents a bit of an issue for VW in that it is close to the Tiguan in terms of passenger volume, which is a metric that people pay attention to more than, say, slight differences in wheelbase (the ID.4 has a 108.9-inch wheelbase, which is 0.9 inches shorter than the Tiguan).

A man who has to deal with all of these issues is Hein Schafer, Volkswagen of America senior vice president, Product Market and Strategy.

And he explains what the company is doing regarding the ID.4 in the context of the company’s other offerings on this edition of “Autoline After Hours.”

Schafer also gives insights into features of the electric vehicle and why they are the way they are (e.g., when you climb into an ID.4 with the keyfob, you don’t need to push a button to start the vehicle: you engage the gear selector and just go; Schafer says they took that approach to make the vehicle simple to use, recognizing that people unfamiliar with EVs might have a preconceived notion that driving one is akin to an algebra class or science experiment).

Schafer talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, freelance journalist Sebastian Blanco, and me on the show.

Additionally, McElroy, Blanco and I discuss a variety of other subjects, including the focus other OEMs have on luxury EVs rather than something that is more mainstream like the ID.4, whether sales practices are likely to change as a result of the massive increase in on-line shopping for seemingly everything during the past year, and a whole lot more.

You can watch the show by clicking here.

Developing the 2022 Bolt EUV

If you have any doubt that EVs have a future in an arena mainly populated by things with pistons, watch this show

Rob Mantinan was a self-described “gearhead” growing up in metro Detroit. He had a Camaro when he was in high school. His dad was a UAW worker at a GM facility in Warren. He went to Kettering University. And started right out of school at GM. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the school with a specialization in automotive powertrain. Which is arguably what a gearhead would get.

But then, while working at GM, he pursued a graduate degree and obtained a master’s in energy systems engineering. He was working on things like the Chevy Volt and his focus began to shift.

The Bolt is quick. But probably not faster than an X-Wing. (Image: Chevrolet)

Which makes a whole lot of sense for what he is doing now: Mantinan is the program engineering manager for the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Bolt EUV.

On the subject of going from one propulsion system to another, he admits, “I got converted pretty quickly,” adding, “I’ve turned from a piston guy to an EV guy. And I can’t see going back—other than as a toy.”

It is certainly good to be a strong believer in what you are doing. It makes doing it all the better and satisfying. And arguably results in a better outcome.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Mantinan talks about the development and characteristics of the Bolt EUV, which is based on the Bolt EV platform, but stretched in terms of overall length (it is 169.5 inches long vs. 163.2 inches) and wheelbase (105.3 inches vs. 102.4 inches), with most of the addition space being used for rear passenger legroom (39.1 inches vs. 36 inches).

From a styling point of view, Mantinan says that the Bolt EUV is moving the Bolt “to the mainstream”: it resembles more of a crossover than a five-door hatch.

And the Bolt EUV is being offered with tech that is only otherwise available on. . .Cadillacs.

That’s right. On a vehicle that starts under $40,000 Super Cruise Level 2+ tech can be obtained.

One of the topics—which seems to come up whenever EVs are discussed—is the range. The Bolt EUV range is an estimated 250 miles. When asked whether they considered providing enough battery to allow a greater range, Mantinan notes (1) for existing Bolt customers, the range has not been a problem and (2) they wanted to assure that the Bolt EUV was accessibly priced for the buyer who isn’t interested in making the hefty payments that are associated with some other brands: This is a Chevy. (In addition to which, GM will be bringing out an array of EVs—including some with the bowtie on the front—that will be using its Ultium battery technology, but that’s in the future and the Bolts are now.)

Mantinan talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Jeff Gilbert of WWJ-950, and me.

Then the three of us discuss a variety of subjects, including VW’s Power Day, Cruise Automation buying Voyage, Foxconn’s reported EV plant plans, and a whole lot more.

You can see it all here.

The Transformation of the North American International Auto Show

Even before COVID this was going to be different. Now it will be really different

When the 2019 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) closed its doors at what was then still known as “Cobo Center,” Rod Alberts, executive director of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association (DADA), the organization that puts on NAIAS, and his team had a idea for what they would do the following year, something that would be significantly different from the cars-on-carpet approach that had long been characteristic of not only the Detroit Show, but auto shows in general.

For one thing, the date would change to June, which is certainly a much more climatically hospitable time of year.

For another, rather than just staging an event at an expo center, the expo center would be an element of something that would take advantage of a wider footprint in downtown Detroit.

Rod Alberts (Image: DADA)

It wouldn’t just be a matter of people looking at vehicles, but having the opportunity to experience them—including autonomous vehicles.

While a map of NAIAS was historically one with the boundaries being formed by the walls of a single building, the new map was one that stretched far beyond Jefferson and Washington Blvd.

But then there was COVID.

On March 28, 2020, NAIAS put out a statement that included a statement from Rod Alberts: “With the more than 100 convention centers and facilities around the country being considered to potentially serve as temporary hospitals, it became clear to us that TCF Center”—the rebranded Cobo Center—”would be an inevitable option to serve as a care facility to satisfy our community’s urgent health needs. 

“One of the hallmarks of NAIAS since the very beginning has been our commitment to being socially responsible. Our thoughts continue to be with those whose lives have been impacted by this devastating virus.  And we support the city and state’s mission to help preserve life in the face of this challenging situation.”

The 2020 NAIAS was canceled.

So Alberts and his team flipped the pages of the calendar to June 2020.

January 11, 2021, with COVID-19 getting worse than it had been in March 2020, Rod Alberts and his colleagues canceled the 2021 NAIAS.

But they announce a new event, one that will be held September 21-26, not at TCF Center and its environs, but at the M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan, which is 87 acres dedicated to motorsports, including a 1.5-mile track.

While the reimagined NAIAS that was going to be held in Detroit would have offered some rides, the nature of those rides would have been nothing like what Alberts says is going to happen at what is named “Motor Bella.”

He’s talking fast.

And not only does the M1 allow fast, there is also an off-road facility, so he’s talking dirty, too.

Fast cars, rock-crawlers and a whole bunch of new sheet metal in a whole different venue.

Alberts talks all about Motor Bella on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Detroit Free Press car critic Mark Phelan, and me.

Alberts, who has probably been to more auto shows in venues around the world than most people have been to auto shows in their home towns, says that the team at NAIAS is completely aware of the what expectations are among especially younger audiences, so they’re going to be staging the Motor Bella event to appeal to not only this younger demographic, but to car enthusiasts of all types.

But while Motor Bella will be an alternative—given that it is outdoors, it can accommodate a COVID environment that, one hopes—will be less onerous—Alberts says the they’ll be back downtown, too.

If you have any interest in the transformation of auto shows, this is something you need to watch.

You can see it here.

Electric Delivery: A Clever Approach to Logistics

This van is compact, capable and electric. And it has a hell of a price-point

This is nothing if not clever.

Even were it not for COVID-19, the success of e-commerce was driving all manner of commercial delivery vehicles into neighborhoods across the U.S. The pandemic has only accelerated that growth, and suddenly even businesses that never imagined that they’d be in the delivery business (e.g., restaurants that aren’t based on pizza) suddenly are if they want to stay in business.

One of the characteristics of electric vehicles is that because they have fewer parts than a vehicle with a combustion engine, there are fewer things that could break. In addition to which, there are fluids, like oil, that need to be changed.

Companies that have fleets of vehicles (even if that fleet consists of, well, one), know that maintenance is both costly and time consuming.

So that’s on the good side of the ledger for an electric delivery vehicle.

So James Taylor, who is the founder and CEO of Electric Last Mile Solutions (and a man who has run operations with names that you might be more familiar with, like Cadillac and Hummer), says that a right-sized delivery vehicle that happens to be electric can be a cost-effective game-changer for many companies.

The vehicle that will be offered by Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) is a Class 1 delivery van. It is based on a model that is on the road in China, the Sokon EC35. It has a cargo capacity of 170 cubic feet and a maximum payload of 2,403 pounds. It is compact, with a 120-inch wheelbase and a length, width and height of 177, 66 and 78 inches, respectively.

The ELMS Class 1 delivery vehicle. (Image: ELMS)

It has a 100 kW electric motor from JJE and a 42-kWh battery from CATL.

It has a range of 150 miles.

Back to that cost of equipment issue.

According to Taylor, the vehicle is going to be priced at about $32,500. When you take the $7,500 federal tax credit off of that, it is at $25,000, a price, he says, that someone can get a combustion-powered Class 1 van for. So because of the reduction in required maintenance and other factors, Taylor says the total cost of ownership is about 35% better than the traditional approach.

The vehicles will be produced in Mishawaka, Indiana, in the 675,000-square-foot factory that used to be the Hummer plant. It has the capacity to build over 100,000 vehicle per year, which is probably a good thing for Taylor because he says that they have more than 30,000 reservations for the vehicle.

The bodies-in-white will be delivered to the plant so there is no stamping, welding or painting involved. It will be all about assembly.

Because there is a vast array of requirements in the commercial space, Taylor says upfitters will actually work within the Mishawaka plant so customers will get their van from the factory.

It is very clever.

Taylor talks about what ELMS is doing on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Christie Schweinsberg of Wards Intelligence and me.

In addition, McElroy, Schweinsberg and I discuss a variety of other subjects including the need for better and more extensive EV charging infrastructure, the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to go electric, Ford of Europe’s electrification plans, and a whole lot more.

All of which you can see right here.