Home » What The Hell Is Harbinger And Why Are They Showing A Boring Delivery Van At The Detroit Auto Show?

What The Hell Is Harbinger And Why Are They Showing A Boring Delivery Van At The Detroit Auto Show?

Harb Top
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Looking at a map of the Detroit Auto Show, I noticed an odd, unfamiliar name surrounded by some big, well-known names. Right by Chevrolet and Lincoln and Cadillac and Buick was a sizable plot of show floor real estate marked HARBINGER. A Harbinger of what? That’s an ominous-sounding name, Harbinger, most likely because it’s usually followed with the words “of doom” or something similarly ominous. But when our own Mercedes Streeter went over to see what’s going on at the imposingly-named booth, she just saw a very mundane-looking delivery van. So what’s going on here? Who is Harbinger, and what are they doing at the Detroit Auto Show?

That blue van up there looks to be an off-the-rack Grumman MT45 stepvan, also sold as a Freightliner MT45, or a Morgan Olson RouteStar, or some confusing combination of those names; it’s a boring, useful delivery van, and I think that’s the whole point. You see, Harbinger is in the business of making electric delivery van chassis, and I think they’re very smart to make them work with one of the most common van bodies available instead of succumbing to the temptation of making something sleek and cool and new looking that will get a lot of attention, but will be expensive and effectively unavailable.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Harbinger’s goal is to make medium-duty commercial EV platforms that are “priced for zero acquisition premium,” which I believe simply means that there’s no cost penalty for a company choosing to get an EV delivery vehicle over a combustion one.

Harbinger’s main product seems to be this chassis, designed for Class 6 19,501 to 26,000 pound medium-duty trucks – think FedEx or Amazon trucks, beer trucks, school buses, that sort of thing. Motorhomes sometimes used these chassis, too, so perhaps that could be a use case for these in the future as well.

Harb Chassis Show1a

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Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on this chassis – which appears to be made to be compatible with the same hard mounting points as conventional step-van chassis like the GM P30 or Chevrolet W-series chassis. That seems to be confirmed by Harbinger:

Harbinger’s scalable stripped chassis has been built to support all of the popular medium-duty body types available today, including commercial walk-in vans, recreational vehicles, box trucks, and others. The front overhang is reduced by Harbinger’s innovative independent front suspension, and the tight integration of battery, powertrain, and frame allows a best-in-class floor height.  Steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire systems offer greater flexibility for driver positioning and prepares fleets for future innovations in autonomy and advanced safety.

Oh, right, I promised a diagram:

Harb Chassis

As you can see, it’s fundamentally fairly simple: a ladder-frame chassis with up to four 35 kWh battery pack modules (so a maximum of 140 kWh) housed in between the main chassis rails. The electrical system is 800V and uses readily-available 21700 lithium-ion cells, and the battery packs themselves look to be fairly easily removable and replaceable, which I suspect is a factor in the planned 20-year service life for this chassis.

It’s leaf-sprung at the rear and has coils and independent double-wishbone suspension up front.

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Driveunit

The motor unit is housed at the rear axle and is entirely below the frame rails, allowing for a fully flat floor. The motor unit is integrated with the necessary power electronics and makes 470 horsepower and 13,700 pound-feet of torque, which seems plenty.

So, with all this in mind, I think I’m getting a good idea of what Harbinger is: kinda boring. But, in the best possible way. This is exactly what the delivery market needs if its going to move to electrification: something that works with equipment that’s already in place: loading docks, racks and other interior van organizing systems, has driver and operator familiarity, and so on.

They’ll look like the same vans as before, and, if Harbinger is able to pull off what they’re claiming, they won’t cost any more than an equivalent gas or diesel van. If you’re not paying attention, you probably won’t even notice the difference, except the vans will be quieter.

Rearqtr

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This is exactly what this segment needs, not an all-new EV van platform that optimizes everything. Harbinger’s approach allows for quicker transformation of existing fleets, with the biggest change needing to be the addition of charging infrastructure, something that one would hope could be paid for by the offset in fuel costs.

Really, this delivery segment is perhaps the best suited to electrification compared to almost anything else: mostly set, pre-defined routes of known distance and mileage that end with the vans back at a central location for recharging. Like school buses, this medium-duty delivery application feels tailor-made for the benefits and limitations of electric vehicles, and once you start thinking about how many gas and diesel-burning vans like these are out there, the scale of the benefit to local air quality and other environmental and resource-use factors is considerable.

This is one of those rare times I’m happy to see something boring at an auto show. Good job being dull, Harbinger!

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Lh1985
Lh1985
1 year ago

As someone who worked for Fedex Ground for over 15 years; I really wish we had these back then.

Captain Video
Captain Video
1 year ago

I wonder if you could drop a 1970s car body on one of these and call it a day. There have to be some models across automotive history that have the right mount points.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago
Reply to  Captain Video

Mid ’60s DeVille, or a suicide-door Lincoln? Hell yeah. Even a ’50s or ’60s pickup cab and bed.

SonOfLP500
SonOfLP500
1 year ago
Reply to  Captain Video

Genuine question: did any production car (or production vehicle of any sort) ever have double wishbone independent suspension at the front and a solid axle/leaf springs at the rear?

SK2807
SK2807
1 year ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

Ford Ranger, Mazda BT-50, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton, Toyota Hilux, VW Amarok and most of those “small” utes/pickups that probably don’t exist in the US come with double wishbone independent fronts and live axle leaf spring rear.

Frodo
Frodo
1 year ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

I thought a bunch of older muscle cars did. I know my F-150 has that suspension setup.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

Most American cars from about the mid-1930s onwards, with freqeuency decreasing from the 80s or so onwards, have SLA suspension in front and a live axle in back. Proportion of leaf springs to coil springs for the rear axle, I don’t know.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
1 year ago
Reply to  SonOfLP500

Also, to be a bit pedantic, this chassis has a dead axle, not a live axle.

As for putting a car body on top of it, well, it would like a car sitting on a truck. And not even a Cadillac Fleetwood 75 limo has a wheelbase as long as 158″. If you wanted to get goofy like that, you’d need to find a crew cab pickup.

B3n
B3n
1 year ago

As much as I dislike EVs in general and think that they are a terrible idea overall, this is finally an EV that makes some sense.
Looks like it’s not an over-engineered, over-complicated expensive tech-showoff project.
I think it’s a good recipe: take a well-established delivery vehicle that has very typical, repeating usage patterns and try to electrify with that in mind the simplest way possible.
Still a challenge, but much easier to design a vehicle for a narrow use case.
I especially like the leaf springs: they’ve been around since forever, work well enough for this purpose, why reinvent the wheel?

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

“Harbinger’s goal is to make medium-duty commercial EV platforms that are “priced for zero acquisition premium,” which I believe simply means that there’s no cost penalty for a company choosing to get an EV delivery vehicle over a combustion one.”

Yes, that is exactly what it means – either a net-zero cost difference or a positive cost benefit at time of purchase. The big question however is not acquisition premiums. UPS pays a pretty significant acquisition premium to get their bespoke vans. Those increased outlays can be written off, written down, and amortized over a period of many years.

The question with vehicles like this is one of maintenance and operational costs. If your net acquisition premium is 0 but the expected lifespan is 5 years, then your costs are not zero – they’re double. If it lasts 10 years but requires retraining and re-equipping your entire repair and maintenance operation, then again, the costs are not zero. If it’s 20 years for the frame but 10 years for the battery, then yeah, they’re just cheating on the math. And of course, you also have fueling costs no matter which fuel it is.
Which really hurts their argument of net-zero premium. They would have to price the electric version BELOW the gasoline or diesel version in an amount large enough to cover the costs of installing the charging infrastructure. Which as has been discussed before, a very large cost.
If your operation decides on a schedule of 7AM to 7PM, taking the vehicle down to 15-20% charge, and doing all your charging overnight? 30 minute charging doesn’t matter. You need to have one charging station per van.
“But if they can do it in 30 minutes, then they can do it over lunch!” Sure, except you’ll STILL need close to one charging station per van. They call it lunch because it’s a meal everyone eats around the same time. And then you have the problem of what happens if someone can’t charge their van? Towing an electric van back to the shop because it ran out of battery ain’t cheap, nor is taking it out of service for an extra 30 minutes to an hour just because a charger wasn’t available.

Bear in mind here, this is not pure skepticism. I’m not saying they CAN’T solve these problems or that they haven’t. Frankly as far as designs go? I don’t see any reason to point and go “SEE, THIS MAKES IT TOO EXPENSIVE!” I honestly don’t. It’s a very well understood, highly developed frame platform. They aren’t doing all kinds of crazy cooling or ridiculous re-engineering everywhere that adds to complexity and cost. There’s no reason a customer could not get more life out of a good van body by simply dropping it onto this frame in their own shop.

But these are the hard questions that customers like UPS, FedEx, and the like are going to ask Harbinger when it comes time to actually talk numbers. What is it going to cost to operate and maintain, how many years can they expect to get out of it, what are their guarantees on parts availability, and so on. And honestly, they’re questions I’d like to know the answer to as well. Those have been and largely remain the Achilles heel of EVs. Tooling up to support them is horrifically expensive, and the lifespan is half that of ICEs if not far less.

Lotsofchops
Lotsofchops
1 year ago

Unrelated to the (admittedly neat) article, does Autopian plan to add a report/flag feature for comments? Every article had some damn bot promising me (1) easy money from home, or (2) sexy sexiness. Even just to hide them would be nice. Or to flag certain, ahem, Daves that feel the need to type every sentence they can think after rubbing their two braincells together as a separate comment.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago

This makes perfect sense, especially in cities where you are stopping every 50 yards.

Barry
Barry
1 year ago

This is how I feel about the F150- bravo on just being a really solid F150.

Barry
Barry
1 year ago
Reply to  Barry

Gah, the electric F150

PaulaHub
PaulaHub
1 year ago

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Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago
Reply to  PaulaHub

Hi Paula,

Congratulations! It looks like somebody up voted you! Get in touch with me for your prize of free winter floor mats.*

*domestic model vehicles, driver and front passenger only.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
1 year ago

First of all, when looking at a chip truck, it’s actually called a hamburger of doom.

Secondly, when will we see Mercedes’ article on how she would convert one of these into a motor home, mobile auto repair and fish gutting shop?

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
1 year ago

Maybe it is time to kick this Dave Horchak guy off the island?

Chris Roberts
Chris Roberts
1 year ago

Someone finally decided to not fix what wasn’t broken. Sounds like an automotive company doing what it knows instead of a tech company deciding it can make a whiz-bang delivery van with all the fancy googaws that doesn’t actually deliver packages that well. Now when will they decide to design battery packs that are hot-swappable so you can maximize the time on the road for your fleet instead of having a bunch of expensive rolling stock tied up for hours charging? Might work for a 9-5 job but the big guys run all day and most of the night, especially in the more densely populated areas. And please someone who knows better than me correct me if I don’t fully understand the electrical engineering behind a battery powerful enough to drive a van. I’ll assume it’s not like swapping out a duracell in a flashlight, but how could it work? (And use small words. I dropped my EE major when I was flunking Thermogoddammits to switch to accounting, thus the lack of battery knowledge but focus on keeping the trucks productive and earning money.)

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Roberts

Hi! HV expert here! (ProTip: in cars, anything over 12V is HV. In data centers, we like things starting at 48VDC and all the amps up to way spicier.)

HV connectors need to be ESPECIALLY protected and ESPECIALLY tight fitting in this application though. One, they have to be watertight because DUH. Two, loose connections cause resistance, which causes heating, which causes fires. (Additional ProTip: fire bad.) What is the fastest way to destroy both of these critical areas?
Repeated removal and insertion of connectors. Of any type.

Most connectors have a specified number of insertion cycles, and often, it’s a LOT lower than you think. For example, a typical SATA connector is rated for maybe two dozen insertions. That’s it. HV conductors it can often be even lower – I routinely have to explain that. Overtorque the 300VDC input and you need a whole new power supply. The main power disconnect for the cabinet is only good for 100 cycles, but since it’s operated maybe 5 times over the entire lifecycle, it’s a non-issue there. But it’s also a knife switch with no waterproofing requirements.
But every time you cycle, you’re applying friction or bending metal to ensure that closely coupled connection. And if you plate it like crazy, you can actually make it worse, because the plating will get worn unevenly, leading to the layers of plate flaking apart. Then you DEFINITELY will have a fire.

THAT’S why hotswap is just not workable. It’s not because of any particular electrical challenges, it’s because of the serviceability problem. You’d end up in a situation where half your fleet is out of service every couple of months because you have to replace all your contacts on the motor side, plus having to replace the battery leads on a regular basis. Plus if the maintenance department overlooks or misses a worn out connector, that can very quickly escalate to one of those insurance claims that starts with “so, uh, funny story about fire extinguishers.”

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

“Just not workable”? How come you didn’t have this objection to Tycho’s article about the apparently booming business of swappable EV batteries in China from a couple months ago?

https://www.theautopian.com/china-is-already-doing-ev-battery-swapping-and-heres-everything-you-need-to-know-about-it/

I have no doubt that companies might tend to be a bit less worried about risk management and liability in China, but with the Chinese company NIO having announced its 500,000th successful battery swap over two years ago, it looks to my unlettered eyes that serviceability might indeed be a reasonably solvable problem. (But for all I know, all those NIO-powered vehicles could have gone up in flames by summer 2020. I have performed precisely zero followup research.)

RootWyrm
RootWyrm
1 year ago

Because it’s not workable there over the long term there either. I didn’t bother bringing it up there because the fact is the Chinese market is entirely different, they have entirely different lifespan expectations, and I simply could not find enough information about their connection architecture.
Serviceability is a very solved problem if you literally throw the entire truck away every 12 months. Which quite bluntly, would not be an unheard of thing for China. Or they just accept that within 12 months, there’s a 50/50 chance they’ll have a truck burn down. Either way, I can tell you for absolute fact that I know that the Chinese market absolutely does not expect or demand 10 years out of these chassis, and even 5 years of lifespan is highly doubtful.
Also bear in mind that NIO could claim they’ve done 5,000,000 battery swaps. Doesn’t make it true. Chinese companies habitually publish blatantly false statements, both for internal and external consumption. My favorite is counterfeit UL and EC labels on electronics. You simply cannot take ANYTHING said by a Chinese company at face value. A former employer learned that lesson the hard way, at a cost of over $10M due to all the not-actually-to-spec products they had to replace. Despite a signed contract, with specifics, and repeated guarantees and photos sent as proof they weren’t cheating us. 10% of the deliveries were made to spec, and the other 90% they had filled hollow pig iron castings with sand.

In other words, I don’t believe NIO’s claims at face value. It’s an arbitrary number with no third party evidence and no idea how many trucks that covers. Is it 500,000 battery swaps over 500,000 vehicles? 200,000 vehicles? Suddenly that number gets a whole shitload less impressive.

The other problem is that it is an absolute fact of physics that you simply cannot just repeatedly insert and unplug watertight connectors carrying 800V at over 100A without some level of wear. How MUCH wear is going to vary wildly and sure, you could make them withstand 100 or 200 insertions. Again, I have 480V 3ph 150-200A disconnects that can handle 100 cycles. I get ’em right off the shelf. Square D 9422 series, you can get ’em at Lowes. No shit. (Well, they have to order the ones THAT big, but you take my point.)
But we also have the watertight component to consider. Any repeatedly broken seal is going to wear, period. Doesn’t matter what material you make it out of; that just determines how quickly it wears. Any amount of friction sufficient to form a watertight seal is going to cause wear and tear on surfaces. It has to, in order to make that seal. And any automotive connector external to the interior carpeting has to be watertight or weatherproof at minimum, whether it’s carrying 1.2V differential sense or 880CCA at 12V.
And you can actually SEE the effect of repeated connector cycling with your common 12V car battery using post terminals. Every time the battery gets replaced, you find you have to tighten those connectors more and more, till they can’t fit snugly on the terminals. It usually takes less than 4 batteries before you have to replace the terminals due to erosion – caused by weather, friction, and the sheer amount of current.
Each 35kWh pack is on average 30 times the capacity of a 12V starting battery. And it’s ALWAYS putting out starting level current, not just a few seconds of cranking. So you need a MUCH more robust connection. Typically full on soldered joints along with large bolt-in terminals on busbars in the battery and motor.
If you want a good idea of just how huge the HV system connectors are, google “Toyota Camry hybrid high voltage service plug.” It’s not actually a plug – it’s an entire huge bolt in fuse within a plastic housing. After X uses (I don’t know the exact number) it must be replaced because it will no longer make a solid connection. And that had to be located in the interior to solve for watertight concerns.
And the Camry Hybrid? That’s a 200V at 4.0-6.5Ah. The Harbinger here is four times the voltage at something like ten times the current.

“So hot swap with bolt on connectors!” Sure, except this doesn’t actually solve the problem. Yes, bolt-in could solve. However, you still have increased cable wear and damage. These are MONSTROUSLY thick and stiff cables; they do NOT want to move. Getting them disconnected, you are going to be scraping and doing unpleasant things to the jacketing. It also makes the connection points more difficult (and much more dangerous) to service, because you now have to have busbar studs.
Don’t fuck with busbar studs. One, copper is a VERY soft metal, so yes, you have a drastically increased risk of stripping the threading. You can’t just weld a bolt onto them, unless it’s a copper bolt with the same risk of stripping. You need the electrical conductivity of copper. Two, it’s much more sensitive to torque as well – overtorque the battery bolt and you just bought an entirely new motor. Three, it takes far, far more time to safely swap these kind of connectors – especially in this layout. You nearly have to take the body off. That’s, uh, not very ‘hot’ swappable. Oh, and four, the danger factor is “fuck you I won’t touch that.”
I consider 208VAC 60A 3ph ‘low power’ and I absolutely will not fucking touch an EV motor with bolt or screw in busbar connections without an absolute litany of additional precautions. ‘Oh you’re a wimp.’ One, car batteries can kill easily. It’s current, not voltage. Two, EV motors are likely to have very large bulk capacitors or high residual charge within them. If I don’t know for absolutely certain that it is fully discharged, accidentally bridging the input to ground could instantly kill me. I’m working with exposed contacts there.
Plug-in connectors can be made absolutely mechanically safe where you have to actively stick two fingers into a cavity several inches deep. Can’t do that with bolt-on connections.

The de-facto go-to for BIG connectors like this is Molex. Molex is literally one of two companies I call for absurd current applications. Based on their photos and statements, I plugged it into Molex’s product selector at 75A per circuit, and as I expected it would, it came back with the EXTreme Guardian wire-to-board family.
I’m very familiar with EXTreme Guardian. They’re actually my favorite connector. With one caveat. Know how many mating cycles they’re rated for? Twenty-five. That’s it. After 25 insertions, both sides of the connector need to be replaced. Molex 468171001 if you’re curious. $25 per pairing and not even available in weathertight. Past that it’s into Coeur CST busbar-to-wire and PowerPlane busbar, also not weathertight, and both with even lower cycle counts.

Donald Petersen
Donald Petersen
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Man, your absolutism and certitude are only matched by your word count. I suppose it’s easy enough to discount the Chinese claims simply because they’re Chinese, but maybe we could ask Tycho about the veracity of the claims, because I guess he’s over there and put in a modicum of research into his article. I’m not going to bother calling into question your own expert opinions because I don’t know who you are, but I’m also disinclined to believe that the entire battery-swapping industry is vaporware chasing a pie-in-the-sky illusion of sustainability based on your mistrust of the durability of various sight-unseen swappable battery connectors. It just doesn’t make sense that any company would long pursue swappable batteries if the contacts are a wear item that can only last fifty cycles or so… unless they are a cheap and trivially replaceable wear item. Because if swapping can’t be made more cost efficient than the hourly cost of recharging, nobody would do it, in China or anywhere.

Tycho, you reading this conversation? Got any insight?

Josh Berger
Josh Berger
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Funny thing is military ships that dock on a regular basis would like to have a word with you. Shore power enough to keep an aircraft carrier going gets hooked up and disconnected on a regular basis. Hell, look at the portable larger generator market. There are good high voltage connectors that get cycled daily on and off and they don’t have huge issues (humans doing the work aside).
Also, didn’t Formula E swap batteries for the first couple of years of the series? Yes, I know that was likely inspected by a dedicated connector technician after every swap/charge/discharge cycle, and that it was only used on a sparing basis…
Also, if one doesn’t push on the subject, things wont get better. A single, large, worldwide auto manufacturer could have someone on staff who is working on this connector right now. When they get one that can hit 6sigma reliability, give it a year before a CFR adaptation and then a couple more years before widescale adaption. This statement is coming from watching the Big 3 try and steamroll the trailer industry with things it wasn’t even thinking about. We almost had an adoption date for trailer braking from the vehicle before many small and medium trailer manufacturers had upgraded to axles with trailer brakes.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

Manager: I need you to design a widget
Engineer: how dangerous is failure?
Manager: I’ll be in jail, you’ll be paying your entire salary from a job you don’t have.
Engineer: How many times does it need to work?
Manager: Oh maybe five times.
Engineer: So we will design it for a mean failure after after 1000 cycles, rate it for 20 and make the customer sign a contract not to use it more than five times.
Manager: I’ll run it by legal and get back to you.
Engineer: Or for 20 percent more it could last forever.
Manager: I can’t hear you. I’m running downstairs to see what that horrible noise is
Engineer: What noise?

A connector is designed for its use plus a safety margin.

Make it big enough compared to the load and it’s not a problem. Compare to brushes on big old DC motors, or the ends of trolley car connectors to overhead wires. For that matter, the plugs on EV chargers.

Comparing to infrequently disassembled systems where compactness and cost are prime considerations isn’t really applicable.

Hugh Crawford
Hugh Crawford
1 year ago
Reply to  RootWyrm

While I’m thinking about it, when I worked in a photo studio, we were plugging and unplugging cables all the time that passed 4000 amps and some guys used way more than that.
That’s a 2400 watt second (aka joules) power pack that discharges in about 1000 of a second, or an average of almost 2 1/2 million watts for that thousandth of a second, and 1000th of a second is a generous amount of time for things to go spectacularly bad, which they occasionally would, but it was never the connector that failed.

Lots of guys that shot 8×10 would have 8000 watt second packs stacked up.

Boy would your ears hurt if a switch arced on an old pack.

FUCK YOU
FUCK YOU
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Roberts

I am *not* an expert, but I do work with high-voltage DC all day in the form of solar arrays and battery backups. The following is just my own semi-informed conjecture:

I don’t see why replacing a modular EV battery pack should have to be so different from replacing similar components on the systems I build and maintain. That is to say, it needn’t be all that complicated. Here’s the general procedure in my world:

First you isolate the device, which means either flipping a disconnect switch, triggering a relay, or just going into the software and changing a setting. (Either way, you’re creating a condition that tells the unit’s internal electronics to power down to safe-to-touch voltage levels.) After waiting a bit for the unit to power down, you then pop open the service panel and disconnect its electrical and communication leads. The electrical connectors are beefier than what you’d find in a flashlight, but often not too different from what you’d find on a 12V car battery—we’re talking some kind of lugs that you undo with a screwdriver. In some applications, and I imagine with an EV battery, you’re looking at some kind of cable connector that is comparable to the many clip-on connectors you’ll already find inside your car, just beefier and more weatherproof. After undoing that (and disconnecting the aforementioned comms, which in an EV may or may not be integrated into the same cable as the power) you are ready to physically unbolt and remove the device.

Installation of the new unit is as they say the reverse of removal, with the additional step that once you’ve turned the new unit on you need to go into the software interface for the system (i.e. open up the app on your phone and scan a QR code to connect to the system’s internal WiFi) and register the new unit. Some systems can pair automatically, others require you to enter a serial number. Then you can go ahead and tell it to power back up to an operational state, and you’re done.

The biggest differences I envision with an EV is that 1) things are likely to be more tightly integrated, which may mean fewer things to connect and disconnect and 2) there is likely to be some kind of active cooling system which will also need to be disconnected and/or drained, and later refilled as necessary.

Again, this is just my conjecture based on comparable systems that I work on. It’s a bit more involved than swapping out a duracell, but it ain’t rocket science.

Phuzz
Phuzz
1 year ago
Reply to  Chris Roberts

A bigger problem for this particular design, is that the batteries are all between the chassis frame, so the only way to remove them would be to drop them out of the bottom. (There is one at the back that you could probably slide out, but that’s only 1/3rd of the batteries).

Gilbert Wham
Gilbert Wham
1 year ago

How big do plane drop tanks get? Cos I’m thinking giant lakester.

PaulaHub
PaulaHub
1 year ago

I’m the harbinger of your mom. ❤️

CPL Rabbit
CPL Rabbit
1 year ago
Reply to  PaulaHub

WTF? The ad bot is making article-relevant jokes?

Or did the owner of the bot just forget to switch account login?

skurdnee
skurdnee
1 year ago
Reply to  CPL Rabbit

I’m fairly certain a lot (the majority?) of online discourse at this point is bots replying to bots

Erik Runge
Erik Runge
1 year ago

That rear axle is interesting. Leaf springs, solid rear connector and CV joints to provide power from the rear motor. Sort of like a De Dion tube with …. wait… that is a De Dion rear suspension.

Not sure why they claim it is a “first of it’s kind” rear suspension. There may be a couple of novel things done in it, but globally it is not a new idea.

Rmkilc
Rmkilc
1 year ago
Reply to  Erik Runge

It’s hard to tell from the pictures but it sure could be. If it was just a solid axle, the motor, gearbox, and inverter would be quite a bit of unsprung weight.

Erik Runge
Erik Runge
1 year ago
Reply to  Rmkilc

The pictures on the harbinger website show much more detail. It is pretty neat packaging.

Nils Petter Bakken
Nils Petter Bakken
1 year ago
Reply to  Erik Runge

Volvo 3-series used a De Dion axel with leafsprings

Zecrid
Zecrid
1 year ago
Reply to  Erik Runge

Correct this is a De-Dion tube suspension(or at least very very similar), and it’s not even the first factory built EV with it! The Ford Ranger EV has a De-Dion tube rear suspension, also some other cool things like a carbon fiber leaf spring(for one year) and watts link.

Stetson Graber
Stetson Graber
1 year ago

Oh no, I’ve played through those games. Don’t need it in reality. Next thing you know, an entire fleet will show up to take over the package delivery business claiming to save us from our efforts to create AI delivery vans….

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago

Good thing this isn’t a Transit, then

Zecrid
Zecrid
1 year ago

This is a perfect solution to fleet EVs. Selling just the chassis might also allow companies to swap any vehicles they were going to retire to this EV platform, might save a buck not needing to buy new bodies and painting them? In any case Harbinger is playing it smart developing something that doesn’t need to meet passenger car safety, not only does a body cost more in materials but adds a lot more difficulty and time designing the car meaning they can get it to market faster and cheaper. (not saying it’s going to be unsafe, but things like this don’t have rollover and side impact tests for obvious reasons)

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
1 year ago

This is exactly the sort of thinking that has been missing from pretty much every commercial/delivery EV proposal I’ve seen: compatibility with existing shit. If you try to completely redesign a whole new truck, you’re throwing out decades of design work and refinement through use of stuff that just plain works. This is the way. Don’t reinvent the wheel; just create something better to bolt it on to.

Vee
Vee
1 year ago
Reply to  Mark Tucker

It’s not even compatibility, it’s long term sustainability. In the industrial world some of the biggest waste comes when existing hardware that still works is just totally incompatible with the new stuff. You end up with businesses taking on huge unnecessary costs and throwing away lots of machinery that’ll never get recycled or re-used simply because a hardware manufacturer decides to move to a new standard that has no efficiency gains in end-use but makes them more money through maintenance contracts or add-ons. The HVAC world has been a big problem for example, with some businesses having to entirely replace their building’s whole HVAC systems minus the vents because drop-in replacements just weren’t possible.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
1 year ago
Reply to  Vee

Yep, that is annoying. At home, my furnace and the inside component of the a/c is still in just about perfect, as-new condition, but the external unit is almost on its last legs. Would be nice to just replace that, but the two sides have to be compatible with each other, so the only option is to rip out the whole system, as it was installed during Reagan’s first term, so everything is long out of production

Justin Haas
Justin Haas
1 year ago

Sir this is a Wendy’s drive thru.

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago

For the last 10 years I drove a van constantly 10 thousands pounds at all times. It’s stupid to think this van even exists.

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago

Pretty sure idiot followed here.

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago

There is also the harbinger of justice. Just not right here because too young to be right too young too due.

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago

Not sure how many times Drew has been hit in t he head. Hope he is better now.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Horchak

Regardless of that, you sound like an absolute jackass in these comments.

SquareTaillight2002
SquareTaillight2002
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Horchak

This is why we need electrification. Breathing diesel fumes can harm brain cells.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave Horchak

A few, actually. Not enough to spam the comments with a reluctance to accept that new technology has plenty of valid uses.
I’ve been around enough trucking all my life to fully recognize this won’t replace every diesel delivery van out there, but it will be great for the uses for which it is intended.

Drew
Drew
1 year ago

This is exactly the sort of electrification we need: familiar, effective, practical, and far more efficient than what it is replacing. Idling delivery vans going electric will do far more good than swapping a 30 mile commute in a Toyota Corolla for a Chevy Bolt.

Dave Horchak
Dave Horchak
1 year ago
Reply to  Drew

Just wrong have you driven a van?

skurdnee
skurdnee
1 year ago

neat

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