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Old 03-07-2021, 03:10 PM   #1
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Amazon/Rivian Even Larger Than GM Van

The idea of a super-sized factory van that could double as a compact Class A motorhome has always appealed to me. Vans are great in many ways but still lack the space of larger motorhomes; although new offerings are no doubt much roomier than older vans. The most popular today is the RAM Extended ProMaster at 463 cubic feet, which eclipses older Ext Ford Econoline like mine that started life around 300 cubic feet. This difference in room is like night and day.

Recently GM announced the electric BrightDrop van with just over 600 cubic feet. Itís not the electric drive that interests me most, but rather the 600 cubic feet that would make a great Class B. Or would it be too large?

Not to be outdone, Motor Trend reported that the new Amazon van from Rivian will be available in 500, 700, and 900 cubic feet sizes. The larger two wider than the smallest. I have not found dimensions yet to confirm how much wider. The largest is 3 times larger than old Ford and Chevy vans, and 2 times larger than largest ProMaster. So much for wet baths in vans.

I know package delivery has recently added demand for such large vans, at a time everything is moving towards electric, but why hasnít Ford, GM, RAM, or Mercedes designed larger vans with standard powertrains? There has to be a point vans become too large, but I donít think we are there yet.
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Old 03-07-2021, 03:23 PM   #2
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Rivian's designs are probably being "driven" by their largest customer: Amazon.
But since they're also looking at short-range driving in urban ans suburban localities: little thought is being given to extended driving ranges... yet!
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Old 03-07-2021, 05:12 PM   #3
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Electric vehicles are great for city deliveries and grocery getters, but I will always have a gas engine in my recreational vehicle. The recharging infrastructure will never get to the places I want to visit.
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Old 03-07-2021, 05:32 PM   #4
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You have to remember that the gasoline/diesel re-fueling infrastructure; has had over 120 years to get it's act together...
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Old 03-07-2021, 05:44 PM   #5
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If anyone happens to see dimensions on the Amazon/Rivian vans, please post or link. I have dimensions for GM version. Again, Iím more interested in their size than electric drive or range because I want to see what it takes to make a van that spacious. For now I agree gas engine is best for motorhome use.

One thing that stood out in article was that package delivery usually doesnít involve much weight. This explains why Amazon extended Transit and 23-foot-long Sprinters in my area are single-rear-wheel vans when motorhomes are built on DRW options.
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Old 03-07-2021, 06:44 PM   #6
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SRW: interesting...
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Old 03-07-2021, 07:40 PM   #7
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If you have received a package from Amazon lately you undoubtedly know that Amazon will ship a box of matches in a box that measures 18 X 18 X 18, so most of their deliveries are light. They do have a bigger series of diesel powered trucks for heavier freight. UPS has tried hybrid trucks but the percent of the fleet is minimal. I would be more interested in a natural gas fueled vehicle as that infrastructure already exists and is cleaner than gasoline.
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Old 03-07-2021, 07:44 PM   #8
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Liquefied natural gas powered vehicles: what are the downsides?
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Old 03-07-2021, 09:00 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Lt Keefer View Post
.....cut.... I would be more interested in a natural gas fueled vehicle as that infrastructure already exists and is cleaner than gasoline.

For light-duty vehicles, I’m fairly certain gasoline will remain dominant until electrification replaces it for many automotive applications.

Diesel is disappearing quickly in smaller vehicles, with Mercedes Sprinter remaining one of the smallest; and it’s not that small. There are 1/2-ton pickups but are not selling well by comparison.

Propane and natural gas seem popular for local fleets with in-house refueling. I know there are more refueling locations, but I honestly don’t see too many private owners moving away from gasoline unless it’s to electric. When looking at future, my crystal ball is often wrong.



Personally, I’d love a 600~700 cubic-foot van with simple and economical gasoline engine. Reducing vehicle size is a great way to make it cleaner; when it’s practical, of course.
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Old 03-09-2021, 02:06 PM   #10
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SRW: interesting...

For what itís worth, chassis manufacturers like Ford continue to increase the GVWR capabilities of their Single Rear Wheel models.

The 2X4 F-350 GVWR is up to 11,500 pounds. The 4X4 F-350 GVWR goes all the way to 12,400 pounds. Thatís why we now see more SRW pickups towing heavier trailers or carrying larger slide-in campers than in the past.

Below is picture of 2022 F-350 from Ford website.
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Old 03-09-2021, 03:38 PM   #11
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What is holding back the load capacity of SRW designs: the load capacity of the tires?
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Old 03-14-2021, 05:10 AM   #12
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The tires are more than capable to handle heavy loads. I have a transit 350 srw with payload of 4100lbs.
That keeps the GVWR at 9500.

When you hit 10,000 lbs a lot of states get into cdl territory and nobody wants that. The drw transit is 10,000 lbs so not much different in capacity.

As far as pickups go most aren't used to haul heavy and extra cabs, leather, sound deadening, and options weigh them down a lot.

Many dually trucks are derated to 9500 to keep them out of cdl territory.
A standard sized gooseneck trailer is usually 14,500 GVWR so that pairs nicely with the 9500 truck to keep you under 26,000 which is cdl required.

RVs have no cdl requirements but they're not going to build special vehicles outside of the class A/B formats just for that purpose.
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Old 03-20-2021, 08:54 PM   #13
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Single Rear Wheel (SRW) designs are limited more by costs and what is practical than by actual tire physical limitations. There are plenty of large 4-wheel vehicles proving this.

One factor to consider is tire size. Higher capacity tires are usually larger, and for existing Class C van-based chassis, significantly larger tires may not fit under existing bodywork.

Traction is another issue that has to be addressed. For a cargo-oriented RWD truck chassis (like those adapted to Class A motorhome use), dual rear wheels is an easy and cheap way to improve traction when loaded since roughly 2/3 of vehicle weight ends up over the drive axle. By comparison, common front-engine RWD cars often have less than 1/2 of weight over driven rear axle, which limits traction on slippery roads (snow and ice) or if driven off-road. When weight over driven wheels falls much under 50%, traction can become a real problem.

Fortunately, vehicles designed for AWD or 4WD have 100% of weight over driven wheels, so traction benefit of dual rear wheels (due to extra weight over driven rear axle) no longer applies. For this reason, I expect many of the new AWD electric vans rely on SRW design. For now they are relatively small and light, which also favors SRW design.

While it may cost a little more, my preference is a vehicle with 4 identical wheels and tires, provided it is designed and optimized that way from very beginning.

Below is picture of a larger electric delivery step van (now discontinued) which has higher weight rating than new Axis 24.1. Tires look like commercial 19.5-inch to me; but could be smaller.
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Old 03-20-2021, 09:06 PM   #14
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UPS recently ordered 10,000 electric vans that look similar in shape to the GM, but are from a new company (Arrival) than the discontinued one above.

https://www.autoweek.com/news/green-...delivery-vans/
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Old 03-20-2021, 10:05 PM   #15
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It looks a bit shorter than the prior one you posted; although appearances can be deceiving...
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Old 03-20-2021, 11:40 PM   #16
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Actually, Iíll correct myself in that the top UPS electric van was actually fairly small. Reported GVWR was high at 6 tonnes (over 13,000 pounds), but a 2007 article lists dimensions close to that of a large ProMaster, Sprinter, or Transit van.

Batteries were extremely heavy compared to modern electric vans that use lithium batteries. Original van had lead batteries.
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Old 03-21-2021, 12:03 AM   #17
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Proof that technological advances can actually be pretty useful.
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:12 PM   #18
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As a follow up on GM Bright Drop electric van, they will now offer a smaller version, the EV410 (I presume about 410 cubic feet of cargo volume). The original was 600 cubic feet.

Length is just under 20 feet, whereas EV600 is listed at 24 feet. Wheelbase of short 20-footer is just over 150 inches, placing wheels close to each corner.

It may make a better vehicle for city campers.
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Old 10-11-2021, 12:29 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Bob Denman View Post
Liquefied natural gas powered vehicles: what are the downsides?
Ready availability for fueling. In some parts of the country it's easy to find, in others difficult. LNG/LPG also doesn't have the energy as gasoline so less range for equivalent tank size.
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Old 10-14-2021, 01:28 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Chance View Post
For what itís worth, chassis manufacturers like Ford continue to increase the GVWR capabilities of their Single Rear Wheel models.

The 2X4 F-350 GVWR is up to 11,500 pounds. The 4X4 F-350 GVWR goes all the way to 12,400 pounds. Thatís why we now see more SRW pickups towing heavier trailers or carrying larger slide-in campers than in the past.

Below is picture of 2022 F-350 from Ford website.
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I suspect that trailer is way overloaded with that big tractor.
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