By Nick Carey
LONDON (Reuters) – REE Automotive, which develops rolling chassis for commercial electric vehicles (EVs), said on Tuesday that it will start customer tests of its electric walk-in van in Detroit this summer to take orders for 2023 deliveries.
The Israeli startup said the EV, built using a body designed by EAVX, a unit of U.S. commercial vehicle body maker JP Poindexter & Co., is built on its P7 platform.
CEO Daniel Barel told Reuters it was important for potential customers and partners such as UPS, with which REE Automotive has been working since 2019, to test working models.
“For customers to order vehicles in magnitude, they have to try it out,” Barel said. “Especially if it’s a new technology that nobody else has, nobody will sign an order before they’ve driven it.”
Instead of traditional axles, REE’s electric vehicle platform runs using four separate wheels – with their own steering, braking, suspension, powertrain and control – that allow its vehicles to have flatter bottoms, providing more room for cargo.
The P7 platform is intended to power EVs with payloads of up to 8,800 pounds (3,992 kg), with a range of 370 miles (595 km).
The startup is building a highly-automated assembly plant in Coventry in the United Kingdom this year, followed by one in Austin, Texas, in 2023.
As traditional automakers prepare to churn out electric vans and trucks, startups are more focused than ever on finding a competitive or technological edge.
(Reporting by Nick Carey; editing by Jason Neely)