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Arrival presents a sneak preview of the electric urban buses of the future, adapted to pandemics

Arrival’s electric delivery vans have made a lot of “noise” in the UK. But the startup does not intend to stop there and is now positioning itself on another type of electric vehicle: the bus, but not just any bus.

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A transport company with an innovative vision.

In the past, the electric bus was something of a hero in the making, a more sustainable paradigm for public transportation that could help move densely distributed urban masses without a whiff of smog-forming tailpipe emissions. Then VIDOC-19 came along, and all forms of public transit became the enemy.

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As the London-based start-up Arrival is only at the beginning of its transport ecosystem, it is taking advantage of the pandemic to preview a more flexible electric bus that is once again becoming the hero of the day by offering opportunities for social distancing on board. Arrival was until now best known for its electric vans, but what it is really aiming for is an integrated public transport ecosystem that includes vans, taxis, carpooling, buses, charging infrastructure and more.

Zero-emission public transit, but not that much !

Its zero-emission bus will be the main driver of this ecosystem, offering a modern and attractive way to get around cities and their surroundings. Arrival previewed its bus on Wednesday, focusing on how it can be a solution for the “new normal” of public transport.

Ultimately, we will all have to return to work and daily life, which will involve determining the safest and most convenient ways to get to and from work. So, for now, the idea of a bus specifically focused on “space, cleanliness and well-being in a world where people are more aware of hygiene and personal space” sounds pretty good.

An electric bus unlike any other.

Arrival’s ad was very buzzword dense and not very detailed, but its illustrations show a modular interior that can be configured in many different ways, from rows of seats to maximize the number of passengers to more widely spaced options with physical barriers and one seat per row or zone.

It would probably be fairly easy to switch from one configuration to another in response to the changing public health climate. In addition to the idea of reducing the degree of “public” in public transport, Arrival also has a sleeker, more digital look for its bus, with bright, easy-to-read interior and exterior displays that inform passengers about the route and upcoming stops.

The startup wants to prioritize local economies.

Like the other vehicles of the Arrival family, the buses should be designed in local micro-plants, where they will be put into service. Arrival plans to build 1,000 of these micro-plants worldwide by 2026 and claims to have developed unique manufacturing technology to support them. The plants would bring jobs, supply chains and tax revenues into local economies, rather than simply bringing in vehicles built elsewhere.

According to the start-up, the bus will cost the customer the same as an equivalent fossil fuel, which will result in long-term savings through reduced operating costs. All this may seem a bit too good for the moment, but Arrival has worked with very reputable companies. In January, it received an investment of 100 million euros from Hyundai and Kia while signing an agreement to deliver 10,000 electric vans to UPS.

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