Michigan-based manufacturer, Shyft Group, is gearing up to introduce a new line of electric trucks and vans under the Blue Arc brand. With expertise in producing medium-duty specialty vehicles, the company aims to tap into the growing demand for medium-duty electric vehicles in the commercial trucking sector. Shyft Group plans to compete with both startups like Arrival SA and established manufacturers such as Daimler Trucks, who are also venturing into this space.
To kickstart production, Shyft Group intends to initiate pilot production of its first Blue Arc vehicle, a step-in van, in Charlotte, Michigan, located near its Novi headquarters. The company, formerly known as Spartan Motors, has a history of manufacturing diverse vehicles, including fire trucks and motorhomes. In recent years, it has focused on medium-duty vehicles for commercial fleets, and the Blue Arc series of vehicles in the Class 3 to Class 5 range is a natural expansion of its existing brands like Utilimaster, Builtmore, and Duramag.
Daryl Adams, the Chief Executive of Shyft Group, explained that they recognized the presence of traditional manufacturers in the light-duty Class 2 space and anticipated the eventual entry of major players like Peterbilt, PACCAR, and Navistar in the heavy-duty Class 6, 7, and 8 segments. As a result, Shyft Group decided to concentrate on medium-duty vehicles within its area of expertise.
Adams mentioned that the team faced challenges in finding suitable electrified medium-duty chassis from traditional suppliers like Ford Motor Co and Freightliner. Additionally, electric skateboards from EV startups were not durable enough for their requirements. Hence, the decision was made to leverage Shyft Group's own chassis building expertise and combine it with their Utilimaster body and upfitting experience for the Blue Arc line.
Adams emphasized the importance of partnerships in this venture, and Shyft Group has joined forces with renowned automotive suppliers such as Dana, Bosch, and Akebono. By collaborating with these high-quality suppliers, the company aims to ensure the success of its Blue Arc vehicles.
The Charlotte plant is scheduled to commence regular production of Blue Arc vehicles in the fall, with an initial goal of manufacturing 200 units this year. Shyft Group anticipates significant growth, targeting 2,500 units in 2025. Adams expects that by that time, Blue Arc vehicles will contribute approximately $500 million in sales, roughly one-third of the company's total revenues.
Notably, one of Shyft Group's prominent dealer/distributors has already placed an advance order for 2,000 Blue Arc vehicles, indicating confidence in the product. Adams believes that Shyft Group's advantage lies in its in-depth knowledge of customer needs and its operational expertise, setting them apart as the “anti-startup.”
In conclusion, Shyft Group's upcoming launch of the Blue Arc line of electric trucks and vans demonstrates their strategic focus on the medium-duty commercial vehicle market. With their unique approach and partnerships with reputable suppliers, the company aims to carve out a significant share in the growing market for electric vehicles in the commercial trucking industry.