Detroit becomes engineering base for commercial electric vehicles

Electric Cars

There is a ripple effect from Ford establishing its EV headquarters in Detroit’s Corktown, and GM dedicating its Detroit-Hamtramck plant for electric vehicles. America’s trouble automotive capital is taking on new importance as a center for EV engineering. That’s paying off in unexpected ways.

North Carolina’s Fontaine Modification this month opened a facility in Hamtramck to convert the chassis of Ford medium-duty trucks to electric vehicles.

Bay Area-based Motiv Power Systems provides batteries, controls, and motors to electrify Ford E-450 trucks. Motive is in the process of opening a Detroit-area engineering center. Motive customers for its electrified vehicles include Google, which uses them for employee shuttles, to Uniform supplier Aramark, which ordered 50 of them.

Matt O’Leary, president of Motiv, told the Detroit Free Press:

We want to tap into Detroit’s engineering base, which understands the demands of automotive systems.

There are more examples. Michigan-based Spartan Motors will soon begin making its Reach electric truck using an Isuzu chassis. And let’s not forget that Rivian, which has a design and engineering center in Plymouth, Mich., will soon start building all-electric Amazon delivery vans in nearby Illinois.

Bollinger B1

Bollinger B1

A year ago, electric truck maker Bollinger Motors moved from Hobart, N.Y., to an industrial park just north of Detroit. And the list continues to grow.

Electrek’s Take

Nearly every automaker also makes commercial vehicles, which are increasingly getting electrified. The list of those commercial enterprises based in Detroit is impressive.

For EV fans who focus on passenger vehicles, it’s easy to overlook the size of the market for commercial and delivery vehicles. Moreover, we could miss the ways that a growing base of EV knowledge and engineering talent ­– centered in Detroit – could simultaneously help the city’s workers and address the world’s environmental challenges.

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