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The original item was published from 5/27/2021 11:44:19 AM to 6/6/2021 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: May 27, 2021

[ARCHIVED] Electric Van Plant coming soon to St. Joseph County!

ELMS electric Car

MISHAWAKA — It will be only a matter of months before Electric Last Mile Inc. is able to begin producing electric delivery vehicles at the former Hummer H2 plant. 

The company, which has been valued at about $1.4 billion, is expected to become publicly listed on the Nasdaq before the end of June, according to Jim Taylor, CEO. At that time, ELMS also will be able to close on the purchase of the 675,000-square-foot H2 plant with Seres Automotive. 

ELMS, which is headquartered in Troy, Mich., recently announced it is partnering with Randy Marion Automotive Group as its first distribution partner. Based in North Carolina, Randy Marion is one of the nation’s largest commercial vehicle dealerships. 

According to the agreement, ELMS would supply Randy Marion Automotive about 6,000 of the small Class 1 electric delivery vehicles, which weigh less than 6,000 pounds. The company said that number of vehicles would represent a significant portion of its initial launch volume through the first half of the year. 

Federal tax credits and other incentives will make the electric van comparable in price to its competitors, but it will offer operational savings of about $19,000 over the life of the vehicle and considerably more cargo space than a typical Class 1 vehicle, said Erik Grossman, director of communications for ELMS

“Our fleet customers are seeking solutions that both address their sustainability goals and also drive their bottom line,” Randy Marion, founder and CEO of Randy Marion Automotive, said in a release from ELMS

The company said it also is working with Randy Marion Automotive and several of its fleet customers to initiate trials of the vehicle — including a California FedEx Delivery Service Provider, a regional plumbing services company, an east coast-based HVAC systems provider, a major university and a southeast produce distributor. 

Taylor, who served as CEO of the Hummer brand as well as Seres, said he was drawn to the Mishawaka plant because Seres already has spent about $20 million upgrading the facility, which was built about 20 years ago. 

Though Seres’ plans to build an electric vehicle at the Mishawaka plant fell through, the production-ready condition of the facility and the area’s experienced labor force will help ELMS become the first to bring an electric Class 1 vehicle to market. 

The plant was last used by AM General to build the Mercedes-Benz R-Class for export to China.  

Initially, ELMS will use about a third of the plant. A portion will be used by a company that specializes in retrofitting vehicles to meet the standards of businesses that will be buying them for their fleets, Taylor said. 

A van that might be going to a plumbing or electrical company, for example, will be configured differently than one that could be going to a delivery business, said Taylor, adding that the goal is to ship service-ready vehicles directly to customers. 

Employment at the plant could reach about 100 this year as production gets underway at the end of the third quarter this year. But the company envisions there could be 900 jobs at the plant by 2025, when it hopes to be producing an estimated 83,000 vehicles a year. 

To achieve that goal, ELMS also plans to unveil a Class 3 electric vehicle next year. 

Article written by:  Ed Semmler - South Bend Tribune

Published on May 26, 2021

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