Motiv Scores First California Certification for Medium-Duty EV Chassis

March 26, 2018 by John O'Dell

Motiv Power Systems received the first zero-emission chassis certification from the California Air Resources Board, an achievement that gives it a significant leg up in the medium-duty electric truck market.

The Foster City, Calif., electric powertrain manufacturer said the certification makes it the only chassis supplier that saves truck makers the expense of independently certifying their vehicles. That’s a process than can take months and cost $100,000 or more.

Motiv introduced its battery-electric EPIC medium truck chassis in early March at the Work Truck Show in Indianapolis and received the California air board certification a few weeks later.

CARB’s “Emissions Exemption” order covers the Motiv EPIC chassis for Class 4-7 trucks for the 2018 and 2019 model years. Nationally, that’s a 225,000-vehicle market each year. California accounts for about 25,000 new Class 4-7 sales annually.

With a California certification, the EPIC chassis will meet air quality rules in all 50 states, although the company is not looking at national sales quite yet, Urvi Nagrani, Motiv’s business development director, told Trucks.com.

Motiv’s electric chassis with a medium-duty Ford truck cab.

Motiv’s electric chassis with a medium-duty Ford truck cab. (Photo: Motiv)

Almost all new Class 3-6 trucks and shuttle buses sold in California after 2020 are expected to be electric powered, John Boesel, president of Pasadena-based clean emissions technologies booster CalStart, told Trucks.com.

The air board’s exemption order “could make a big difference in how the electric truck market will develop” and in Motiv’s role in that market, said Antti Lindstrom, a trucking industry analyst with IHS Markit.

At present, most vehicle makers in the medium-duty market purchase electric powertrain components from outside suppliers and integrate them into their own platforms. They also convert internal-combustion engine platforms acquired from manufacturers such as Ford and General Motors.

Each manufacturer has had to certify emissions compliance for each version of its electric truck.  A review of recent air board certifications shows that almost 20 manufacturers have them, but none are for stripped chassis such as Motiv’s EPIC.

With the air board’s blanket certification, Motiv can sell its EV chassis directly to fleet managers and body makers, who can outfit it with whatever cabs and work bodies they need without having to independently certify, Nagrani said.

“This is the first pre-certified, turnkey, body-ready, single part number electric chassis ready to outfit with whatever a fleet’s requirements are,” said David Vespremi, Motiv’s marketing manager.

Fleets and independent truck owners also can change bodies in the future without having to recertify the EPIC chassis — something that can’t be done under the present system.

Privately held Motiv won’t disclose sales figures or revenue, but Nagrani said the company expects sales to double in 2019 from 2018.

Motiv recently signed an exclusive three-year supplier deal to provide Spartan Motors with electric chassis for its Class 4-6 walk-in van bodies. The deal “was very much pinned to this certification,” she said.

The EPIC chassis is currently based on Ford’s medium-duty platform, but Motiv expects to expand its offerings. This will provide California air board certified underpinnings and electric powertrains for bodies designed for other manufacturers’ platforms, Vespremi said.

The chassis is designed to accommodate a variety of medium-duty bodies, including walk-in and box trucks, school and shuttle buses and various work trucks.

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