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Indiana-built ELMS EV Van Company Signs Deal With CATL for Battery Swapping Deal

ELMS began in 2020 as a plan B startup from Chinese automaker Chongqing Sokon Industry Group. Three years earlier, Sokon subsidiary SF Motors purchased a plant in Mishawaka, IN, with a plan to build an electric SUV called the SF5.
ELMS Van 11 photos
The SF5 never came to fruition in Mishawaka, a city of 50,000 near South Bend.

Now startup Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS), who took over the Indiana plant, has announced this week announced two new battery partnerships with Chinese battery giants CATL and startup Ample. CATL will provide its cell-to-pack technology to startup ELMS for use in its electric delivery vans. In addition, ELMS is partnering with startup Ample to use Ample's modular battery-swapping technology.

The ELMS vans are aimed at selling to fleet managers, and their vehicles have a range of 100 to 120 miles, offer some 170 cubic feet of cargo space, and are priced at around $27,000. That final price includes a $7,500 federal tax cut.

The battery supply deal means CATL will provide a 42-kWh lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery pack for the ELMS Urban Delivery Class 1 van.

CATL also supplies cells for the Mercedes-Benz EQS and says the company’s “cell-to-pack” technology boosts energy contained in batteries by 15%. Insiders say CATL is also searching for a U.S. manufacturing location.

ELMS and Ample also announced recently that they will cooperate on a "bundled offering" combining the Urban Delivery van with Ample battery-swapping.

As part of that agreement, fleets could opt into an "energy-as-a-service" arrangement. That would allow customers to pay only for the energy they use, or alternatively, a "mobility-as-a-service" plan where customers pay for vehicle usage by the mile.

The Ample solution offers a modular battery architecture. ELMS and Ample say they’ll soon be offering test drives and battery-swap tech demonstrations in San Francisco before the end of this year and add that they’ll roll out the battery-swapping tech in the second quarter of 2022.

The first Urban Delivery vehicles from ELMS recently rolled off the line at the Mishawaka factory, previously used to build Hummers. The startup's vans are produced in part in China and assembled in Indiana.

ELMS also says they plan to offer a second model, the Urban Utility. That van will be a Class 3 heavy-duty vehicle, and it’s scheduled for production in the middle of 2022.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.


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