The push into electrified platforms that is saturating the passenger vehicle marketplace is now starting to impact commercial vehicle companies, manifesting in a deal between Hino Motors Co. Ltd. and REE Automotive Ltd. to develop a multi-function electric vehicle.
The pair are partnering on the development of a modular platform for commercial vehicles. The shift into electrified commercial vehicles already started by companies like Ford, General Motors and Mercedes-Benz with new products in recent months, such as the E-Transit, BrightDrop and e-Sprinter vans, respectively.
This new partnership will also create a new commercial vehicle, likely a truck, using a electric platform or architecture. Ultimately, the two sides claim the deal combines Hino’s knowledge and technology with REE’s proprietary EV technology.
Japan-based Hino’s U.S. unit, which produces semi trucks, late last year announced a partnership with Toyota to develop fuel cell-powered trucks. The first working prototype is scheduled to be ready this summer. The setup will use a newly developed Hino XL Series chassis paired with a Toyota fuel cell to put the truck on the road.
A new type of commercial EV
Hino and REE are promoting “new value for next-generation commercial mobility” with advancements in Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric, or CASE, vehicles. The companies plan to take on initiatives to create new value through next-generation commercial mobility solutions, including autonomous delivery vehicles.
The mobility solution planned by Hino and REE will use a modular platform that will carry a customized Mobility Service Module on top, i.e. a body. The Mobility Service Module carries passengers, goods and deliver services. It addresses a wide variety of current and future applications aligned with customer requirements. It also could provide new value to society, and will be enhanced with data-driven services, Hino and REE officials said.
In addition, the Mobility Service Module can be easily detached from the EV platform and once detached it can serve as an independent, stand-alone unit – making services and goods accessible to society, leaving the platform to be operated separately but the modular design could also offer solutions for new applications.
Prototype paved way for new alliance
The companies will first work to develop prototypes by the end of 2022, while evaluating business models, engaging potential customers, and conducting demonstrations for potential customers.
“The starting point of this collaboration is the FlatFormer concept we showcased at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show,” said Hino CEO Yoshio Shimo. “It received an excellent response, and I am delighted to see this FlatFormer concept come closer to reality.”
“REE is a visionary company, and I am confident that this business alliance will become a driving force for Hino as we take on the challenge of generating new value in commercial mobility to harmonize with future society,” he said.
Daniel Barel, Co-Founder and CEO of REE said, “The FlatFormer unveiling at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show proved to be a turning point in future electric mobility and set the stage for this exciting alliance with the visionary team at Hino. We see this alliance as a unique opportunity to fulfill our shared mission of improving quality of life for people around the world by developing and bringing to market revolutionary next generation EVs.”