Arrival, the Anglo-American startup that wants to revolutionize design and Manufacturing of electric vehicles, is ready to talk about his first car. The Arrival Car, as it is called, is primarily intended for passengers to take passengers during their working day.
Even if the company doesn’t want to call it a taxi, this is basically the Arrival Car, an electric update of the London Black Cab for the cities of the future. But with a number of tweaks, that means it’s smaller and more efficient than current cars, but still has a lot of interior space.
The (Capital-C) car was teased for a while, and in May, Arrival announced it had partnered with Uber create a “purpose built vehicle for ride-hailing”. It’s also a project with an ambitious deadline: the first models are expected to roll off the assembly line in the third quarter of 2023.
When I visited Arrival’s headquarters in Oxfordshire, I was able to look at the Alpha prototype and sit inside, but the company is a little suspicious of sharing too many pictures of the same. That’s partly because the first model, which was built in about six months, isn’t entirely representative of what’s to come. I wasn’t allowed to photograph the car in all its glory, but was provided with a mix of renderings and close-ups of various components.
Arrival is also confident that it can turn a car around in such a short time because it stands very much on its own shoulders. After all, the car uses the same built-in EV skate platform that is used for. was developed the van and the bus. That means Arrival can effectively cut its skate to the right size and place any cabin structure on it.
The arrival car is deeply uncool, a box on wheels with an emphasis on maximizing interior space for passengers. It has the same silhouette as a minivan made in France; You can easily imagine a number of these under the age of 15 parked in front of a Saturday morning soccer game. But because it completely denies the need to be aesthetic for the sake of aesthetics, it’s pretty cool too.
And despite the sci-fi styling, the design has something very human, something very organic. Since the propulsion is on the ground, no pronounced bonnet is required, the windshield simply merges with the chassis. A curved glass roof extends over the cabin, making the interior airy and spacious.
There was a lot of focus, of course, on maximizing interior space and legroom, and I’ve seen visitor centers that are more cramped. Although the car sits in (roughly) the same footprint as a VW Golf, the car probably has more legroom than a (famously spacious) London Black Cab. The passenger seat also folds down and easily slides forward if you need more space. Also, the height means you can get in and out of this vehicle easily instead of crouching awkwardly, which should help people with mobility issues.
The only problem with this first version that will likely change in the second prototype is the luggage compartment. This first model has a rather small luggage compartment, designed for two large and two small suitcases and little else. However, Tom Elvidge, EVP of Vehicle Platforms believes changes will be made to improve this for the second prototype.
Arrival’s custom software platform controls the system, and the car has a Tesla Model 3-like 13-inch screen that sits in the center of the dash. This is good for localization as it needs to be made available in left and right hand drive models. But it also helps clear up some of the clutter that ridesharing sometimes clogs your view.
Another driver-oriented advantage is the fact that the car is comfortable, but not equipped with sensitive materials. Much of it stays in the flow, of course, but the prototype uses brightly colored woven fabrics for seat covers and something splash-proof on the floor. With the risk of passengers messing up the vehicle and reducing the time drivers spend on the road, easy cleaning is a top priority.
It’s just getting started, and Arrival has most of two years to answer many of the most important questions about this vehicle. Battery capacity, range, speed, and cost facts remain empty as the company is currently focused on ironing out the design. We know there will be no speed limit on just driving on the city streets as 10 percent of the ridesharing goes to the airports. And that it has to pass at least as a family hatchback if the drivers don’t work and want to use the car as their own drive.
And of course, cost will be a big factor in helping drivers get out of their existing vehicles. Arrival believes it is supporting many of the innovations that have already been developed there, but there are no concrete figures yet. Given how many taxi fleets have introduced Priuses (and other Toyota hybrids) to get more range out of their fuel budget, you can imagine this going to be a hit.
What we do know is that Arrival’s EV platform offers an exceptional driving experience and is a lot of fun. I was allowed to drive one of the test vans across the company parking lot and the test track and it’s wild. This thing is a heavy duty UPS style parcel truck that drives with the ease and precision of a go-kart. I am sure that many professional drivers will enjoy the feeling of connection with the road that this particular system offers.
Arrival is currently working on figuring out which elements of this first model are not working and refining them for the second prototype. However, there is still a lot to be done by the end of 2023 and we will wait and see what happens in the end.
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