Mullen Automotive formally drew back the curtain in its new Class 3 electric truck in late August. The unveiling was held at the OEM’s vehicle assembly plant in Tunica, Mississippi. HDT/Work Truck was on hand to see the new Mullen THREE and the Mullen ONE compact electric van that will be built in the facility.
The first Mullen THREE rolled off the plant floor a few days earlier. But Mullen executives wanted to celebrate the debut build and outline the OEM's ambitious plans for additional vehicles in the coming months and years.
John Schwegman, Mullen’s chief commercial officer, briefed guests on the facility, the overall market outlook for battery-electric trucks, and the vehicles that will be produced at the Tunica plant.
He opened by noting that a mere eight months ago, Mullen had just acquired the Tunica facility and was beginning to staff up, hire workers, and set the plant up for production. He praised employees at the plant for what he called a “truly remarkable” transition from an idle facility to an automotive plant that was rolling trucks off the assembly line.
“More and more people recognize climate change as a real problem,” Schwegman said. “And at Mullen, we understand that. That’s why we’ve elected to produce all-electric vehicles, because we want to do our part to help win that battle. Clean transportation should not be a luxury – but a necessity. And we’re here to help make that a reality.”
Under-Served Commercial Vehicle Markets
Schwegman said that the North American commercial market for electric trucks and delivery vans is critically under-served today.
“There are not a lot of commercial products from traditional OEMs hitting the market today,” Schwegman explained. “For both electric vehicles and conventionally fueled vehicles. That’s why Mullen has elected to start production of our electric vehicles with our 'Commercial First' strategy.”
Mullen, which now owns a 60% share of Bolinger Motors, will launch larger commercial vehicles under that nameplate early next year. A “diverse vehicle portfolio” that will include consumer vehicle launches is still a “year or two down the road,” Schwegman added.
Initially, Mullen will aim for the Class 1 compact van market with its Mullen ONE vehicle, slated to begin production later this year. Schwegman noted that, while the Chevrolet City Express Van – which just left the market – had 125 cubic feet of cargo space, the Mullen ONE will offer 155 cubic feet of cargo space and spill over into the Class 2 vehicle space because its battery-electric powertrain does not take up as much chassis and body space as a gasoline powertrain.
“When it comes to Class 3, the only competitor we see in the market currently is Isuzu,” Swegman added. “But we see a lot of market demand in Classes 3 to 5, frankly. So, we feel there is plenty of room in the market for a company like Mullen, which has a lot of long-term experience in the North American automotive industry in its leadership team. And when we look at the state of the electric vehicle market – particularly in terms of available incentives – we feel there are a lot of tailwinds for BEVs today.”
No-Frill Designs for Real-World Fleet Work
Out on the plant floor, a Mullen ONE van and a Mullen THREE cabover were staged for vehicle walkarounds. Additional trucks were staged outside the rear of the plant for brief demonstration drives.
Both vehicles feature pared-down, no-frills designs that reflect the real-world demands faced by commercial vehicle fleets and drivers. The Mullen ONE, for example, has a workstation for the driver in place of where a passenger seat would usually be. Both cabs are spacious thanks to the electric powertrain layout and feature full instrumentation and simple vehicle operation (as is the case with most EV models).
Advanced Mullen telematics are standard on the vehicles. This includes Electric Fleet Optimization to help fleet managers master the nuances of commercial EV operations. Fleet and Driver apps are available for smartphones to allow specialized, targeted access to the vehicle telematics and the information it generates.
First Impressions of the Mullen EV
It was a sweltering day in the Mississippi Delta, with the mercury on the thermometer a touch above the 100-degree market. So, I am happy to report firstly that Mullen electric truck air conditioning systems are more than capable of keeping the cab interiors pleasantly cool, even in those trying conditions.
As noted, the demonstration course was only enough to give only a cursory feel behind the wheel of each vehicle. But both examples featured excellent views out of the cab, particularly to the front and sides of the trucks.
Acceleration was brisk, and the ONE and THREE exhibited extremely tight turning radiuses that drivers in congested urban areas will appreciate.
Both interiors were remarkably well done and laid out in logical, efficient manners clearly designed with driver productivity and efficiency in mind. There’s virtually no ambient noise coming at you inside the cabs, either. This is both in terms of the electric powertrain (which was to be expected) and when it came to pops, squeaks and rattles that are commonplace in commercial vehicles. The fit-and-finish on both interiors looked to be first-rate. That translated into a remarkably quiet ride inside the respective cabs.
According to Mullen, the estimated range on the ONE is 110 miles, while the THREE can go 130 miles on a single battery charge.
All Mullen electric trucks are covered nationally by Amerit Fleet Solutions, offering both parts and service tailored specifically for EV commerical fleets.