Looking to wrest a chunk of the electric delivery vehicle market from the likes of Rivian and Arrival, General Motors has launched its new BrightDrop business unit. The latest GM branch will take on the task of supplying customers with an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile delivery vehicles and products, along with accompanying software and services. Its first vehicles will hit the market this year in the form of an electric delivery van and electric-assist pallet.
BrightDrop spins out of GM’s Global Innovation internal startup incubator, which has previously launched businesses like GM Defense and OnStar Insurance. The new business unit will assist delivery and logistics customers in lowering costs, improving efficiency, enhancing safety and security, and boosting sustainability efforts.
“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 Chairman and CEO Mary Barra explained in introducing BrightDrop on Tuesday.
BrightDrop is currently preparing its first launch, the EP1 electric-assist pallet. Using in-hub electric motors, the EP1 will be something of a “last-meter” delivery tool, designed to assist in short distances, such as those from the truck to the customer’s doorstep. It will ease some of the physical burden on couriers by offering electric motor assistance matched to walking pace, up to 3 mph (4.8 km/h), while also helping to make deliveries quicker and more efficient. It will hold up to 23 cu ft (650 L) and 200 lb (91 kg) of cargo, organizable via adjustable shelving and lockable cabinet doors.
Plans call for the first EP1 units to hit streets, sidewalks, driveways and warehouse floors in the coming weeks, following a pilot program that has been completed in conjunction with FedEx Express. According to GM, that program demonstrated a 25 percent increase in the number of packages FedEx Express couriers were able to handle in a day.
Getting packages from their origins to the truck-to-doorstep EP1 will be BrightDrop’s EV600. The Ultium-powered delivery van will offer an estimated range up to 250 miles (402 km) per charge, adding back up to 170 miles (274 km) per hour of charging at a 120-kW DC fast-charging station. It will offer more than 600 cu ft (17 cu m) of cargo area and a gross vehicle weight rating under 10,000 lb (4,536 kg).
The EV600 will come loaded with driver-assistance features tailored to both city and highway driving. The standard feature set will include front and rear parking assist, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking and lane keep assist. Features like blind zone steering assist and HD surround vision will be offered optionally.
GM plans to deliver the first EV600s to early customers like FedEx Express by late 2021, expanding the rollout in early 2022.
Beyond those two initial vehicles, BrightDrop will be focusing on its cloud-based software support and fleet management features and services. It also plans to grow its vehicle lineup in the future, with possible products including a medium-distance EP1 carrier and rapid-load delivery vehicle. Focus will initially be on the US and Canadian markets.
Source: General Motors