Motiv Power Systems will supply Spartan Motors with chassis to build electric walk-in vans, the companies said at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis this week.
Spartan will use the chassis to convert Ford E-450 vans to electric drive.
Motiv, which makes chassis for other electric medium duty vehicles and buses, has redesigned its offering to work in delivery vans. For example, electronic controller boxes previously placed outside the frame rail were repositioned on the inside. This allows for the chassis to be used in a wider variety of vehicle configurations.
“By having this chassis available, they can run it down their assembly line and build on it the same way that they build on a Ford E-450. It’s their same vehicle, just electric powered,” Jim Castelaz, Motiv’s chief executive, told Trucks.com. “If these vehicles are going less than 80 miles a day and they’re returning to a depot every night, that’s a pretty great set-up for electric.”
The vehicles will be configured with two sodium-nickel battery pack choices. The larger 106-kWh battery offers a range of up to 90 miles. He said the cost of the battery is rapidly declining.
A lithium-ion battery pack version of the chassis is planned for the future.
“We are the only ones who use mass-market passenger car battery packs, and that is a huge cost savings,” Castelaz said. “The passenger EV space has driven those prices way down, while other commercial vehicle makers are building their own bespoke battery packs, the savings aren’t there.”
The deal with Spartan means that Motiv expects to more than double its sales in 2018. In 2017, Castelaz said, Motiv delivered around 50 vehicles. The deal with Spartan is expected to generate hundreds of sales.
Castelaz, who founded Motiv in 2009, said he is comfortable with slow growth after seeing other companies scale up too quickly before their product was proven.
“We want to make sure that the vehicles we put on the road are going to be really good, really reliable in the different use cases that they’re used in,” Castelaz said. “As we’re scaling up, we’re doing it in a measured way where we can be absolutely certain that we’re delivering a top-quality product that’s really going to work well for the fleet.”