The Los Angeles Auto Show just wrapped up, but a “fully electric vehicle factory” that will be going up near the site of the convention is already off to a flying start. The electric vehicle manufacturer Abarth announced Friday that it has begun the process of building the first electric van prototypes at its Italian manufacturing facility.
The factory, which will be situated along the Carso Azzurra Industrial Park near Torino in Italy, will start producing electric Chevrolet Express vans with an original equipment manufacturer agreement with General Motors. Abarth will produce the vans as a new independent company and they will eventually be offered as dealerships vehicles. The company does not expect to start shipping them to dealerships until 2021. Abarth hopes to start selling them under its own brand name as well.
Sourian Lehmann, Abarth’s president, said that the electric van is an extension of the car company’s existing work on standard automobiles, according to The Verge.
“We’ve been working on a car based on the front of the commercial vehicle and it’s a car that has a full autonomy system that doesn’t need a driver in the front seat anymore and autonomous control in the back,” he said. “The current Taxi and Driver Approved van has room for a driver in the front seat, but as the market transitions to fully autonomous vehicles, the taxi driver may be left behind,” he said. “We look at this as a very important milestone.”
Abarth President says company is building vans as an extension of its work on vehicle design. Also announce the Abarth electronic car theft solution available as a free upgrade pic.twitter.com/XVP6BOIJ4Z — hsnews () February 9, 2019
Abarth, known for its flashy interpretations of European automobiles, also sells some of the world’s fastest street-legal cars and was featured in two Fast and Furious movies. It even produces a turbocharged version of the legendary 690, which (according to popular lore) was put together by motorsport legend Juan Manuel Fangio.