General Motors has revealed a new electric delivery vehicle that will feature an estimated 250 miles of range along with the announcement of its BrightDrop business unit, which is designed to offer a new ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software, and services for delivery and logistics companies, the automaker said.
Following the reveal of the BrightDrop ecosystem is the announcement of the EV600, an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long range, GM announced. It will combine zero-emissions driving with a range of advanced safety and convenience features more common in consumer electric vehicles.
The EV600 is powered by GM’s Ultium battery system, and is targeted to have an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge. It will have a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging, according to the automaker. The EV600 will feature more than 600 cu.-ft. of cargo area, and will be available at a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.
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.
Other technological components include a 13.4-inch-diagonal, full-color infotainment screen.
It will include a suite of standard safety features, including 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.
FedEx Express is slated to be the first customer of the EV600, receiving their vehicles later this year. BrightDrop expects to make the EV600s available to more customers to order starting in early 2022.
“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.”
Fleet Software and Services
BrightDrop will also offer an integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces, the automaker said. Built-in connectivity provides businesses with detailed data and insights that can help improve overall operations, including route efficiency, asset utilization and product upgrades. Drivers and couriers can utilize the mobile application for a variety of tasks.
BrightDrop will offer EV fleet management solutions for the EV600. Connectivity features will provide fleet operators remote access, real-time location, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching and incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.
BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the U.S. and Canada. It will have a customer support team to assist with every aspect of operating and servicing BrightDrop products, including supporting charging and infrastructure installation, advising on upfitting services, and retrofitting a current fleet vehicle to integrate with BrightDrop products, the automaker said. BrightDrop support services will also assist with maintenance needs, including securing parts and scheduling repairs.
Customers will connect with BrightDrop through an independent sales and service network, leveraging a newly established BrightDrop dealer network to support vehicle sales and service.
Another product announcement is the BrightDrop EP1, which is a propulsion-assisted, electric pallet developed to easily move goods over short distances – for example, from the delivery vehicle to the customer’s front door, according to General Motors. The EP1, BrightDrop’s first product to market, will be available in early 2021, and is aimed at helping reduce package touch points, costs and physical strain on delivery drivers.
The EP1 will be maneuverable in tight spaces, and have the capability to carry and secure approximately 23 total cu.-ft of cargo. It has a payload capacity of 200 pounds. BrightDrop’s mobile asset management will also allow for EP1 connectivity, providing customers real-time features, including location monitoring, battery status, remote commands to lock and unlock, and over-the-air updates of connected features.
BrightDrop 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, the automaker said.
An EP1 pilot program has already been completed in partnership with FedEx Express, in which couriers were able to effectively and safely handle 25% more packages per day with the EP1s. BrightDrop and FedEx Express have another pilot scheduled to take place in one of the biggest urban centers of the U.S. this quarter.
“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support. “BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow. With this new suite of products, we will help improve the safety, security and timeliness of FedEx Express deliveries, while reducing our environmental impact and protecting the well-being of our couriers.”
Travis Katz has joined BrightDrop as president and CEO, GM said. Katz has an extensive background as a technology leader, entrepreneur and investor. This, combined with his track record of scaling global businesses, will help BrightDrop further GM’s vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
BrightDrop was born out of GM’s Global Innovation organization and joins the lineup of other recently launched Global Innovation startups, such as OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian and GM Defense. GM estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be over $850 billion.