GM is targeting delivery companies with its new EV BrightDrop business unit

GM is targeting delivery companies with its new EV BrightDrop business unit

GM has launched a new business unit to offer commercial customers — starting with FedEx — an ecosystem of electric and connected products, the latest effort in the $27 billion company’s bid to become a leading electric automaker.

The new venture, called BrightDrop, which was officially unveiled Tuesday during the 2021 CES webinar, will start with two main products: an electric car called the EV600 with an estimated range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric mattress called the EP1. BrightDrop has other products in mind and is toying with a few concepts, including a a medium-distance vehicle that transports multiple electric pallets known as the EP1 as well as an express delivery vehicle concept, which was teased on Tuesday.

Image Credit: GM/screenshot

This is not just a car game, however. GM has also developed a suite of software tools to provide an EV ecosystem for the commercial market. It is also establishing a network of resellers to support sales and service and plans to help commercial customers set up charging infrastructure.

The The cloud-based software platform, which can be accessed on the web or via a mobile app, will provide users with information to improve operations, including better delivery methods and other fleet management features, according to GM. The electric vehicle and pallet will have an array of integrated features designed to provide customers with better ways to track and control vehicles, including location monitoring, battery status and remote locking and unlocking commands.

Image Credit: GM

BrightDrop is the latest “startup” to spin off from the automaker’s Global Innovation efforts, an in-house organization that has led to the launch of OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian and GM Protection. Travis Katz, who was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures, has been named CEO and president of BrightDrop.

The idea for BrightDrop was sparked by a team within the Global Innovation organization that was evaluating the growth of e-commerce and consumer demand for online delivery, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“The more we learned about the needs and challenges of delivery and transportation from that first mile to the last five feet, the more we saw an opportunity to leverage GM’s expertise in things like electronics, applications, telephony, fleet management to help the business move.” products and services in a smarter and more sustainable way,” Pam Fletcher, vice president of Global Innovation at General Motors, said at a press conference ahead of the announcement.

That opportunity is huge, according to GM’s estimates. The car manufacturer said that By 2025, the combined market opportunity for package, food delivery and delivery in the US will be over $850 billion. Demand for last-mile urban delivery is expected to grow by 78% by 2030, resulting in a 36% increase in trucks in the world’s top 100 cities, according to the World Economic Forum. At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause emissions-related carbon emissions to increase by nearly a third.

Part EP1

Image Credit: GM

The first product of the business unit is called EP1, a push-assisted electric pallet truck designed to move goods over short distances. For example, it can be used to transfer goods from a warehouse to a delivery vehicle. The instrument will be available in early 2021.

The EP1 has a built-in electric hub motor that can travel up to 3 miles per hour. The speed of the shell will change according to the walking speed of the operator.

The EP1, which GM says is designed to drive in rough terrain, can take up about 23 cubic feet of cargo space and carry up to 200 pounds of cargo. Inside the shell are adjustable shelves and lockable cabin doors to allow remote access to any goods being shipped.

FedEx recently completed a pilot program to test the EP1. FedEx Express shippers were able to safely handle 25% more packages per day with EP1s, according to GM.

BrightDrop and FedEx Express have other trials planned for a major US urban center this quarter.

Part of the EV600

BrightDrop GM electric van FedexBrightDrop GM electric van Fedex

BrightDrop GM electric van Fedex

Image Credit: GM

The electric vehicle is a vehicle designed and built from GM’s Ultium architecture – the heart of the company’s EV strategy. The first vans will be delivered to FedEx later this year. BrightDrop expects to make the EV600s available to more customers to order starting in early 2022.

The car will be able to travel an estimated 250 miles on a single charge. Its peak the charge rate will be up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging, according to GM..

Inside is a room, and 600 cubic feet of cargo space, and comes with a security system to keep items safe. There’s a 13.4-inch touchscreen, a full-color infotainment screen, sliding front pocket doors, wide cabin aisles and a large auto-opening tailgate.

The electric vehicle comes standard with the most advanced driver assistance technology found in its consumer vehicles, including front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking and other warnings to keep the driver on track. The car also comes with forward collision warning, following distance indicator, front pedestrian brake with automatic high beams and HD Rear Vision Camera.

Customers can push security features and add options like rcross traffic ear, blind spot steering assist, automatic reverse braking, HD surround vision, rear pedestrian alert and automatic emergency brake booster.