Anglo-American EV startup Arrival is putting its groundbreaking bus and car projects on ice as it struggles to manage its cash reserves. The Financial Times reports that the company, which said it would lay off a third of its staff last month, would now focus on completing its delivery van. Arrival said that it had anything up to 20,000 orders with UPS for the vehicle, and is expecting to get the first models out of the door later this year. That will hopefully reduce the pressure on the company’s bottom line, and boost its share price, which has fallen 90 percent since it went public via a SPAC last year.
The company was unable to comment to Engadget about the FT’s report, as it is preparing to release its financial results this week.
Arrival actually started with its electric bus project, and has already built several models ready for real-world testing. Its car, designed to be sold to ride-share drivers, was at the prototype stage (I saw it first hand last December), and the company had recruited Tom Elvidge from Uber to run the program. The FT’s report says that both projects are in stasis for now, and are likely to be revived as soon as Arrival begins making money. The car project may, however, find itself squeezed by the looming recession and that so much VC money, which was dumped into transportation startups like Uber, has now dried up, leading to a wave of closures.
The biggest tragedy from all of this is that Arrival’s focus on revolutionizing public buses was a genuinely different approach from most EV makers. Buses are a fixture in pretty much every city, and while it’s always better for the environment to use one over a car, making them even cleaner was a great plan. That the public project has been iced in favor of the fleet of logistics vans is not surprising, but it’s certainly not a great sign for the future of public transport.