By Nick Summers
The company is starting with an electric van and pallet.
GM wants a piece of the battery-powered logistics market. The company, which owns Chrysler and Cadillac, has announced a new business unit today called BrightDrop. It’s starting with two vehicles, the first of which is an electric van that can drive up to 250 miles on a single charge. It’s called the EV600 and has up to 600 cubic feet of space inside, or an estimated 2,200 lbs of payload capacity. The all-wheel-drive vehicle is also fitted with a security system in the cargo area, an auto-locking door and motion-activated interior lighting. On the road, drivers will benefit from automatic emergency breaking and parking assistance, among other features.
Before the EV600 hits the road, BrightDrop will be launching a smaller vehicle called the EP1. It’s a pallet — the kind of trolley that’s often found in stores and warehouses — with an electric motor that makes it easier to move heavy objects around. The included container offers 23 cubic feet of space, or a total payload up to 200 pounds. According to GM, the doors are lockable and there’s a modular shelving system inside so that workers can easily organize goods. The hope is that delivery drivers will use them to shuffle cumbersome items between their van and customers’ front doors.
These two are the first in a BrightDrop “ecosystem” that will include both vehicles and software. The company will provide customers with a cloud-based platform, for instance, that can be used to monitor their operations and improve their fleet’s efficiency. The EP1 will also offer location tracking and battery status, remote locking and unlocking, and other features via over-the-air updates. The EV600, meanwhile, will have location tracking, remote battery and charging management, incident recording, and more. Like the EP1, it will also benefit from over-the-air updates.
BrightDrop is moving into a space that’s quickly heating up. Amazon has already revealed a cute EV delivery van with Rivian. British startup Arrival has already secured an order with delivery giant UPS. Canoo is also hard at work on its own multipurpose delivery vehicle. BrightDrop has a key partner on its side, however: FedEx. The pair have already completed a pilot program with the EP1 and has a second pilot planned this quarter. FedEx will also be the first company to receive EV600 vans later this year.
“BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow,” Richard Smith, FedEx Express regional president of the Americas said. “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.”
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