General Motors has answered back to the joint venture between Amazon and Rivian, and just announced a new startup business venture that will provide electric delivery trucks and other associated technology services to companies like FedEx and UPS. The new brand, called BrightDrop, will debut with two products: the EP1, an electrically powered pallet to move packages; and the EV600, a commercial electric delivery truck. The vehicle’s debut capped a very busy CES 2021 for GM.
The Detroit automaker hasn’t launched an automotive brand in the United States since the Geo brand in 1989. But more recently, the short-lived Maven car sharing platform was GM’s attempt at tapping into new automotive market trends.
According to GM, the two products work hand in hand to improve efficiency, safety, and sustainability. The public’s first taste will come later this year when GM delivers 500 of the BrightDrop EV600 electric delivery vans and trucks to its inaugural client, FedEx.
In terms of technical spec, the EV600 is an electric commercial truck with a 250-mile range on a full charge, it will use GM’s Ultium battery platform. The large-format, pouch-style Ultium battery system allows cells to be stacked vertically or horizontally depending on vehicle layout. Ultimum batteries are scheduled for use under the new GMC Hummer EV, and the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq. The BrightDrop EV600 battery pack will boast a peak charging rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour from a fast-charging station. BrightDrop will help its fleet customers establish a charging network.
The BrightDrop EP1 is a propulsion-assisted electric pallet that was designed to move goods over short distances, including from the delivery truck to a front door. The built-in electric hub motor will allow it to travel at speeds of up to 3 mph, carry up to 200 lbs, and be capable of carrying about 23 cubic feet of cargo.
The third element of BrightDrop will be an integrated, cloud-based software platform that will provide data that will improve route efficiency, and provide over-the-air updates, asset management, and product upgrades. Fleet management functions will include real-time location data, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching, incident recording, and remote diagnostics.
BrightDrop gives GM an added revenue stream which will certainly help provide funding for GM’s transformation into an all-electric automaker. In case you forgot, GM has pledged to invest $27 billion in EV development over the next four years, with 30 new EVs set to launch by 2025. And we got a glimpse at several of them during GM’s CES 2021 keynote.
It’s unclear how much BrightDrop electric delivery van will actually contribute to GM’s bottom line, but delivery services in the United States, including parcel and food delivery, are expected to develop into an $850 billion market by 2025.