Detroit Custom Chassis will install Motiv's EPIC chassis on the Ford F-59 platform at its Detroit Chassis Plant.

Motiv names new CEO, forges OEM alliance with DCC

Feb. 26, 2019
With O'Leary at helm, company's zero-emission EPIC chassis to be installed on Ford F-59 platform in Detroit

Motiv Power Systems, a provider of all-electric medium duty fleet chassis, recently received a commitment from Detroit Custom Chassis (DCC) to install Motiv’s all-electric EPIC chassis on the base Ford F-59 platform, which is assembled by its affiliate Detroit Chassis Plant (DCP), both owned by Spectra.

Assembly of Motiv’s EPIC chassis at DCP enables more efficient and cost effective production and reduced build times to meet growing customer demands for zero emission commercial truck offerings, Motiv said.

The decision comes on the heels of Motiv’s appointment of new chief executive officer Matt O’Leary, who served as board chairman for more than two years and continues to fill that role on an interim basis, allowing founder and previous CEO Jim Castelaz to assume the position of chief technical officer, with a seat on Motiv’s board.

“This transition is really a natural byproduct of the tremendous market success that Motiv has experienced, and the future growth plans we are putting in place,” O’Leary said. “The number of recent key partner and supplier agreements Motiv has secured over the past year, including sales to USPS and a strategic partnership with Winnebago, as well as a BMW lithium-ion battery supply agreement, demonstrate that the company has matured and now offers an opportunity to better leverage Jim’s incredible technical talent in expanding our technology offerings with innovations to further cement our competitive advantage.”

As a Ford eQVM certified producer, Motiv worked with DCC to optimize production requirements of the EPIC chassis to enable it to seamlessly slot into the same assembly lines producing internal combustion engine-powered chassis. 

“DCP has long served as the production facility for Ford’s F-59 commercial truck chassis,” O’Leary said. “Since a number of our EPIC chassis variants are based on Ford’s F-59, it made perfect sense to implement an OEM build process that closely mirrors the one used by Ford themselves. With the scale we are focused on achieving in order to meet market demand, this represents a significant step forward for Motiv.”

Production is already underway at DCP, which has capacity to build up to 90,000 chassis a year at its 220,000-square-foot assembly plant on 33 acres in Detroit MI, the company said.

“Detroit Chassis has been in high-level strategic discussions with Motiv going back to 2012 and planning for the F-59 rollout accelerated in 2018,” said Michael Guthrie, co-chairman and CEO of DCP. “We are excited to now finally be able to showcase the Motiv EPIC chassis rolling out of our facility. We couldn’t be happier to see Motiv take a leadership position as the first EV commercial chassis produced by our facility.

“We expect that over time, electric chassis will sell in similar and, eventually, even greater numbers than gasoline and diesel-powered equivalents. It was a natural fit for DCP to be in the forefront of that market shift.”  

Motiv expects to make the first customer deliveries of its Epic chassis originating from DCC in the first quarter 2019.

O’Leary said his transition from chairman to CEO makes for a seamless transition, allowing him to apply the operational experience and commercial customer knowledge he built up during 38 years at Ford Motor Company, including a stint as the vehicle line director for North America trucks, SUVs and commercial vehicles.

“It was always my hope that we would reach a point in Motiv’s evolution where I could focus on the aspect of Motiv that excites me the most—and that’s the development and deployment of our key technology and our growing ability to free fleets from fossil fuels,” Castelaz said. “I’m incredibly proud of what our team has accomplished and am excited about this opportunity to pass the reins to Matt.

“It has been a pleasure working with him over these last two years and I am confident of the tremendous value his leadership brings to Motiv.”