GM launches BrightDrop, unveils new final mile van

Global vehicle maker, General Motors, has revealed its new battery-powered delivery vehicle the EV600.

It has been launched in concert with BrightDrop, a new business that offers an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services to empower delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently as global lockdowns to virus strains prompt transport businesses to maximise productivity, improve employee safety and freight security and support overall sustainability efforts.

Born out of GM’s Global Innovation organization, BrightDrop joins the lineup of other recently launched Global Innovation startups, such as OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian and GM Defense.

From a growth strategy standpoint, GM hopes the new business will unlock areas of B2B, expansion of the Ultium platform and software and service opportunities.

The EV600, an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long range, GM announced, combines zero-emissions driving with a range of advanced safety and convenience features more common in consumer electric vehicles.

Targeted to have an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge, the EV600 is powered by GM’s Ultium battery system which has a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging according to the automaker.

It will also feature front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways, and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead. A cargo area security system with motion sensors is designed to help keep cargo secure.

FedEx Express, the first customer to order the EV60, received their vehicles late last year. BrightDrop expects to make the EV600s available to more customers to order starting in early 2022.

The new van joined the EP1, BrightDrop’s first product to market, which was also unveiled.

A propulsion-assisted electric pallet designed to move cargo short distances, the EP1 will deliver from the vehicle to the customer’s door.

Couriers have been shown to handle 25 per cent more packages per day with the EP1s while reducing physical strain during a recently completed pilot program conducted by GM and FedEx Express.

“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra GM Chairman and CEO.

“We are building on our significant expertise in electrification, mobility applications, telematics and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution for commercial customers to move goods in a better, more sustainable way.”

GM estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be over $US850 billion.

According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fueled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78 per cent by 2030, leading to a 36 per cent increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities. At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.

To help meet this surge in demand, while reducing the impact on the planet, BrightDrop is developing an integrated set of solutions to help improve almost every aspect of first-to-last-mile delivery.

The EP1 and EV600 are only the beginning according to BrightDrop. It will continue to grow its product offerings over time to include a portfolio of integrated, zero-emissions products to help drive further efficiencies and address emerging customer needs.

A number of concepts are being explored, such as a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s, and a rapid load delivery vehicle concept.

Standard safety features on the EV600 include Front and Rear Park Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, IntelliBeam automatic high beams and HD Rear Vision Camera.

BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the U.S. and Canada.