The deal, announced in March and scheduled to be fulfilled by the end of 2023, is a major move for the Ottawa-based delivery company as the North American launch partner for one of Europe’s leading makers of electric vans
Ottawa-based GoFor Industries, a North American last-mile delivery company, says it remains on track to put into service the first electric delivery vans deployed on this continent by Luxembourg’s Odin Automotive before the end of June — barring any unexpected snags due to the “developing situation in Ukraine.”
This update, provided last week, follows a partnership announcement in March between GoFor and Odin, a holding company that bought the production rights for StreetScooter electric light commercial vehicles (eLCVs) from Deutsche Post DHL in Germany in January, that will see GoFor acquire as many as 3,266 Odin eLCVs, starting with the Class 2 Max Box, by the end of 2023.
That deal gives GoFor, which uses EVs and carbon offsets to support its “renewable delivery” model, preferred access to Odin’s eLCV production in Germany, where it is the largest maker of eLCVs, and where Streetscooter was in scale production for seven years.
Odin also offers a supporting “ecosystem” that includes financing and insurance, energy management and charging infrastructure, aftersales service and maintenance and driver education.
“This union is key to living up to our Renewable Delivery commitment to deliver better through carbon-negative solutions and fast, reliable, low-cost delivery,” said Ian Gardner, GoFor’s CEO, in a release announcing the Odin partnership.
Electric fleet as a service
GoFor operates as an on-demand crowdsourced delivery service, with a network of more than 10,000 independent drivers and franchise fleet owners. The size of its fleet varies every day based on the number of customer deliveries and drivers needed to fulfil them.
According to the press release announcing the partnership, it says it plans to leverage the collaboration with Odin to become “one of the first efleet-as-a-service (eFaaS) providers in North America.”
As GoFor purchases the Odin eLCVs, it plans to deploy them under both fractional use and franchise and models.
For drivers unable to purchase their own vehicles, a GoFor spokesperson says, “We intend to make GoFor EVs available for rent on an hourly basis to do delivery runs. Over time, this will create a path to ownership and financial independence and freedom for them.”
For established owners/operators, GoFor’s “franchise program will give them preferred access to delivery EVs in conjunction with guaranteed revenues from dedicated routes.”
First right of refusal
As part of the agreement, Odin has a binding first right of refusal, meaning that when GoFor identifies a need to grow its fleet with further electric vans from the class of the vehicles in which Odin operates, Odin will be the de facto partner to supply those vehicles.
“Our deal with GoFor will bring Odin vehicles across the pond to North America for the very first time,” says Stefan Krause, CEO of Odin Automotive, in an email interview with Electric Autonomy.
“As climate regulations around the world loom larger and closer, businesses know that they need to electrify. But many small- and mid-size fleet operators have no idea where to start…GoFor is led by sustainably-minded experts who want to be at the forefront of this change, which made them a natural partner for us.”
In the same context, GoFor says its eFaaS solution will appeal to a wide range of customers that have a need for its services and that also “may have to meet organizational goals for sustainability.”
Prioritizing sustainable last-mile deliveries
As a signatory of the Climate Pledge (founded by Amazon and London-based environmental organization Global Optimism), GoFor says it’s aiming to be carbon neutral by 2040.
GoFor’s fleet of vehicles fluctuates depending on the number of customer deliveries and drivers required to complete them. “GoFor has an enrolled driver base that exceeds 10,000 vehicles, however not all these are suitable for electrification,” says the company’s spokesperson. By 2025, GoFor says it plans to convert more than 50 per cent of its fleet to all-electric.
As part of its renewable delivery strategy, it promises to remove “the equivalent of ten miles of carbon for every mile we deliver for you with a non-electric vehicle.” Additionally, it says it is reducing the environmental impact of deliveries by using smart routing and dispatch and real-time tracking to reduce the number of vehicles and trips required, as well as transitioning to sustainable packaging.
At a time when many electric delivery vans are just coming to market, GoFor’s deal with Odin gives it a clear advantage, knowing it has the inside track with a company (via the purchase of StreetScooter) that has been developing and manufacturing all-electric commercial vehicles for almost a decade and has over 20,000 vehicles already on the road.
While their partnership was only announced in March, the two companies’ relationship clearly predates the deal. Krause, who is the original CEO and founder of EV company Canoo, was named chairman of GoFor’s board of directors in August 2021.
According to Krause, he and several other experienced automotive industry leaders formed Odin at the onset of the pandemic, backed by a handful of institutional and private global investment partners. Together, they saw an opportunity in the fact that the growth in last-mile transportation wasn’t keeping up with the boom in e-commerce.
“Vehicles are inefficient for drivers, they pollute and crowd cities, packaging creates major waste and most players in the space are still years away from providing solutions in the real world. We created Odin to give our customers everything they need to start addressing these problems from today.”
When Odin bought StreetScooter from Deutsche Post, Krause said it gave Odin “a huge head start” over the rest of the sector.
“One of the reasons we liked StreetScooter so much from the get-go was because we felt that with the right leadership and investment, it was a hugely scalable business with applications beyond just postal delivery and beyond just Europe,” says Krause.
“This partnership [with GoFor] validates that thinking and gives us a strong North American launch customer to start bringing the business to the next level.”
Deliveries to Canada
The first vehicles GoFor receives will be manufactured at Odin’s plant in Duren, Germany. But Krause says the company is “working towards setting up a second manufacturing line in North America in the next few months, which will take over the production of the vehicles long-term.”
Odin says it is “in advanced conversations” with several other unnamed North American customers. It has also scheduled a press conference on May 19 to “announce the transformation of the company into its next phase, with a new expanded business direction and brand identity.”
For its part, GoFor’s spokesperson says that having done its due diligence on all the current and planned electric delivery vehicle platforms in the markets, the company is confident it’s made the right choice.
That statement echoes CEO Gardner’s comments at the time of the deal when he said: “This partnership brings together two pioneers in sustainable last-mile delivery who both understand that the world can’t continue down the same path, rushing to deliver ever faster, no matter the consequence to communities or the environment.”