Cox Automotive signs service deal with U.S. commercial EV maker

FILE PHOTO: An Electric Last Mile Solutions UD-1 electric commercial van is seen in Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S., in this undated photo. REUTERS/Ben Klayman

DETROIT (Reuters) - U.S. electric commercial vehicle maker Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) said on Monday it has signed a letter of intent for Cox Automotive to supply service and repairs for the delivery van it will launch later this year.

Under the deal, Cox's Pivet unit will provide warranty repairs, vehicle maintenance, roadside assistance, collision repairs and EV battery servicing to ELMS' customers, the companies said. Cox boasts a network of more than 6,000 service centers, 3,000 partners and over 800 mobile technicians. Financial terms were not disclosed.

"The opportunity to collaborate with industry leader Cox Automotive helps put us on track to offer customers one of the most comprehensive service solutions that addresses their fleet needs in the most time and cost-efficient manner," ELMS Chief Executive James Taylor said in a statement.

Cox, a subsidiary of privately owned Cox Enterprises, owns the Autotrader online automobile market, Kelley Blue Book car valuation service and Manheim, which auctions vehicles. Cox also invested in EV startup Rivian.

ELMS plans to launch a small Class 1 electric delivery van at the end of the third quarter, followed by a larger Class 3 truck in the second half of 2022.. The Troy, Michigan-based manufacturer has agreed to go public through a reverse merger with special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Forum Merger III Corp in a deal expected to close in the second quarter.

Both vehicles will be assembled at the former Hummer plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, that ELMS intends to acquire from China's Chongqing Sokon Industry Group Stock Co Ltd when the SPAC deal closes.

ELMS' vehicles will be based on Sokon's commercial van made in China, and the batteries will be supplied by Chinese battery company CATL.

The small van has a starting price of $32,500 before the $7,500 federal tax credit and a driving range of 150 miles. It will include such features as over-the-air updates.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by David Gregorio)

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