This Retro EV Van Is Headed for Production
UK-based Morris Commercial plans to begin building the battery-electric Morris JE van in 2024, after several years of development.
Styled after the once-commonplace Morris J-type van, this EV promises a range of up to 250 miles and a 2204-pound payload.
The light commercial vehicle market has seen a number of electric entries in the past year and a half, including from new brands such as Rivian and BrightDrop.
Volkswagen isn't the only EV maker with a retro-styled panel van in its lineup, eager to offer a variety of ID. Buzz bodystyles. EV startup Morris Commercial, which has planned the resurrection of the once-popular BMC brand, is getting ready for its own retro-style van to enter production in 2024.
The Worcestershire-based company, which revealed the Morris JE in prototype form back in 2019, says it has completed a significant round of funding, with the model now close to being production ready. As a result, the planned electric van is now advancing to the validation and certification stages, prior to the planned start of production next year. A production prototype was shown in late 2022 at a light commercial vehicle trade show, and prototypes have been traveling around the UK for testing.
"From the outset, our vision was to bring a new concept to the LCV market, not just in terms of the battery electric powertrain, but also to introduce a timeless design that takes the aesthetics and appeal of such a vehicle to a whole new level," said Dr. Qu Li, CEO of Morris Commercial.
The Morris JE features an aluminum chassis and a recycled carbon-fiber body, giving it a 2204-pound payload and 229 cubic-feet capacity. With a range of up to 250 miles on a full charge, the Morris JE prototypes also have plenty of range on their side for the tasks sought out by small businesses, which are the target audience of this electric van.
"We are truly grateful that new investors share our vision and beliefs and their confidence in Morris confirms the strength of our business model and our sustainability goals," Dr. Qu Li added. "With this new investment, we will be able to accelerate product development and take Morris JE to market."
With a planned starting price of £60,000, or about $73,000, the Morris JE should see some interest from small businesses, even though by 2024 it certainly won't be the sole electric van offering in the UK. And its appeal, while not confined to the UK, may also depend on the generous tax incentives from municipalities or national governments to offset the high price, as last-mile delivery vans continue to arrive on the market.
Will we see the Morris JE stateside?
That seems unlikely, not only because it's a relatively obscure British brand, but also because of competition from BrightDrop, Ford, and Rivian, as well as startups including Arrival that are also progressing to production. It is also worth noting that VW has chosen not to offer the ID. Buzz Cargo van stateside, despite the model having some history in the US.
Will we see a lot of small delivery vehicles go electric in the US in this decade, or will this process take longer? Let us know what you think.