New OEM Harbinger unveils electric medium-duty platform

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Updated Sep 20, 2022
Harbinger’s initial product line will include electric stripped chassis and cab chassis products.
Harbinger’s initial product line will include electric stripped chassis and cab chassis products designed specifically to address the unique performance, durability, and lifespan expectations required in Class 4-7 vehicles with zero EV acquisition premium.

Harbinger, a Los Angeles-based automotive manufacturer, announced its official launch and unveiled a new electric vehicle (EV) platform for the medium-duty industry.

The company says Harbinger’s initial product line will include electric stripped chassis and cab chassis designed specifically to address the unique performance, durability and lifespan expectations required in Class 4-7 vehicles.

“Medium-duty vehicles serve as the backbone of the commercial transportation industry and are responsible for delivering tens of millions of packages and critical services every day,” says John Harris, CEO of Harbinger. “But while this industry has experienced tremendous growth, fleet customers today face acute shortages of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles, and any meaningful supply of production-ready EV offerings is still years out. We are solving this problem head on.”

Production for Harbinger electric platforms is projected to scale significantly over the next five years, with first vehicles expected in customers’ hands in late 2023, followed by the launch of volume production in 2024.

Fresh thinking provides foundational advantages

Over the past year, a growing team of EV passenger car veterans have quietly been developing a medium-duty powertrain and chassis to overhaul an industry still running on half-century-old technology. Current EV solutions in the medium-duty space offer only incremental improvements, largely by retrofitting popular internal combustion engine (ICE) products, but Harbinger’s suite of in-house developed EV solutions are grounded in road-tested passenger EV technologies and enable a new paradigm in chassis architecture, focused on electrification and improvements in vehicle operation, safety and driver ergonomics, the company says.

Harbinger says its EV solutions feature:

  • A proprietary eAxle at the heart of the vehicle which combines the motor, inverter, and gearbox into an integrated unit. This approach improves energy efficiency, lowers cost, and brings critical safety improvements by enabling the battery systems to be positioned entirely inside the frame.
  • A liquid-cooled battery pack engineered for superior performance, lower cost, and a supplier-agnostic sourcing strategy. The pack design also takes advantage of cutting-edge casting technology to provide improved battery durability, safety and lifespan.
  • A new driver-focused chassis architecture designed to improve safety, driver experience, and productivity through drive-by-wire steering and enhancements to vehicle ergonomics. In addition, a novel front suspension reduces vehicle overhang, improving driver visibility and vehicle maneuverability.

Every element of Harbinger’s medium-duty EV has been reimagined and engineered to deliver category-defining attributes, including:

  • 800V liquid cooled battery system, with capacity scalable in 35kWh increments
  • Best-in-class floor height below 28 in.
  • Designed for 20-year, 450,000-mile standard operating life
  • Independent front suspension with rack-type steering
  • Autonomous-ready with steer-by-wire and brake-by-wire
  • Segment-leading safety and driver assistance features
  • One-hour DC fast charging capability
  • Zero price acquisition premium over today’s equivalent gas- and diesel-powered vehicles

“This industry is performing on decades-old technology that makes its daily rigors nearly unbearable for drivers and concentrates emissions of harmful pollutants in highly populated, residential and business areas where they most acutely affect human health. We can no longer sit idle and watch that happen,” says Harris. “The reality is that technologies developed for the passenger or heavy-duty vehicle industries simply cannot be repurposed for the medium-duty segment.”

Eliminating barriers to adoption and offering a seamless connection to the way the industry currently operates, Harbinger’s scalable stripped chassis has been built to support the predominant medium-duty body types available today, including commercial walk-in vans, RVs, box trucks and other medium-duty vehicles.

Priced to compete with zero acquisition premium

Harbinger was founded on the idea that for cleaner vehicles to become ubiquitous, a competitive EV solution must be offered at a cost comparable to its ICE counterparts. As a result, unlike other commercial EVs available today, Harbinger’s electric platform will carry zero price acquisition premium relative to gas- and diesel-powered alternatives.

“Better technology often comes with outrageous price tags, and we’re seeing today’s medium-duty EVs performing for half the life of today’s ICE vehicles at triple the cost,” says Harris. “Our technology was developed from scratch in order to control top level chassis cost.”

Harbinger has achieved this by leveraging strong existing supplier relationships and concentrating its efforts on in-house development of key vehicle systems, thereby eliminating costly third-party battery and powertrain system premiums. Harbinger’s chassis has also been designed to scale, with modular battery pack and wheelbase configurations that meet the needs of both last mile delivery operators – who typically drive fewer than 100 miles per day – as well as RV and other commercial and specialty vehicle customers that demand different performance requirements, the OEM says.

Ultimately, Harbinger customers stand to enjoy more than just the benefits of a price competitive vehicle. As with all EVs, customers can also expect a reduced cost of ownership over the lifetime of the vehicle thanks to reduced fuel and maintenance costs.

“The cost effectiveness of the platform is a baseline, not a sacrifice,” says Harris. “Our platform will offer an enhanced level of efficiency, durability, safety and performance over our competition and can be sold at a better price point because of our advantages of in-house component design and vertically integrated approach. This is how EVs should be built.”

Harbinger's proprietary eAxle serves as the heart of the vehicle.Harbinger's proprietary eAxle serves as the heart of the vehicle, combining a unique 14 pole motor, power electronics and gearbox to create a compact and durable drive unit, bringing improvements in energy efficiency, lower cost and enhanced vehicle safety.

Deep experience

Led by co-founders John Harris, Phillip Weicker and Will Eberts, Harbinger’s team is composed of EV specialists with decades of experience across the automotive, aerospace and battery technology industries.

Harris leads the company as CEO, bringing expertise from Anduril Industries, Boeing, Faraday Future and Xos Trucks.

Phillip Weicker is the chief technology officer at Harbinger, leading product design and development. Former co-founder and head of powertrain at Canoo, he brings over two decades of experience in battery and drivetrain development with experience at Faraday Future, QuantumScape, Coda Automotive and EnergyCS.

Will Eberts serves as chief operating officer, with responsibility over supply chain, program management and project financials. Eberts brings experience from Anduril Industries, Canoo, Faraday Future and General Atomics ASI.

The founding team is supported by a highly experienced suite of technical and operational leaders, including Alexi Charbonneau, vice president of chassis engineering; Alex Tylee, vice president of powertrain engineering; John Sztykiel, vice president of business development; Deb Bourke, director of engineering programs; Steven Offutt, director of manufacturing; and Michael Fielkow, general counsel and head of corporate development.

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