GM launches BrightDrop, a new business that will electrify and improve the delivery of goods and services

In News6 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineJanuary 15, 2021

General Motors announced this week a new business, BrightDrop, which will offer an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services aimed at empowering delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently. GM says these BrightDrop solutions are designed to help businesses lower costs, maximize productivity, improve employee safety and freight security, and support overall 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,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO.

The global automotive giant estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be over $850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fuelled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78% by 2030, leading to a 36% increase in delivery vehicles in the world‘s top 100 cities. At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.

The BrightDrop ecosystem aims to help meet this surge in demand.

First-to-last-mile products

BrightDrop EP1 – BrightDrop‘s first product to market, the EP1, will be 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. Available in early 2021, the EP1 can help reduce package touch points, costs and physical strain on delivery drivers. 

EP1 features and benefits include:

  • Built-in electric hub motors with adjustable speed up to 4.6kph depending on operator‘s walking pace.

  • Maneuverable in tight spaces. 

  • Carries and secures approximately 23 total cubic feet of cargo.

  • Payload capacity of 90kg.

  • Adjustable shelving organises contents.

  • Lockable cabinet doors allow for secure, remote access to contents.

An EP1 pilot program has already been completed in partnership with FedEx Express. During the pilot, FedEx Express couriers were able to effectively and safely handle 25 percent more packages per day with the EP1s. FedEx Express couriers shared feedback that the EP1s were easy to manoeuvre and reduced physical strain.

BrightDrop and FedEx Express have another pilot scheduled to take place in one of the biggest urban centres of the U.S. this quarter. FedEx Express is also slated to be the first customer of the EV600, receiving their vehicles later this year.

BrightDrop EV600 – BrightDrop‘s second product to market will be the EV600 — an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. It will combine zero-emissions driving with a range of advanced safety and convenience features more common in consumer electric vehicles. 

EV600 features and benefits include:

  • Powered by the Ultium battery system, the EV600 is targeted to have an estimated range of up to 320km on a full charge.

  • Peak charge rate of up to 272km of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging.

  • Over 600 cubic feet of cargo area.

  • Available at a GVWR of less than 4500kg.

  • Segment leading safety features

    • Standard safety features include: 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.

    • Additional available safety and driver assistance features include: Rear Cross Traffic Braking, Blind Zone Steering Assist, Reverse Automatic Braking, HD Surround Vision, Rear Pedestrian Alert, Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking, among others.

  • Cargo area security system with motion sensors to help keep cargo secure.

  • A 13.4-inch-diagonal, full-colour infotainment screen.

  • Front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door all contribute to optimize driver efficiency.

GM says early customer interest in the EV600 has been strong, with the first vehicles to be delivered by the end of this year. BrightDrop expects to make the EV600s available to more customers to order starting in early 2022.

Software-enabled services
BrightDrop offers an integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces. 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 utilise the mobile application for a variety of tasks.