GM targets delivery companies with new EV business unit BrightDrop – TechCrunch

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

The new business, called Brightdrop, officially launched on Tuesday during Virtual 2021 CES, Will start with two main products: an electric van called EV600 with an estimated range of 250 miles and a pod-like electric pallet dubbed EP1. Brightdrop includes other products and is tampering with some concepts, including The mid-range vehicle that transports the EP1 as well as several electric palettes known as the rapid load delivery vehicle concept, which was teased on Tuesday.

Image Credit: GM / screenshot

However it is not just a vehicle game. GM has also developed a suite of software tools to offer the EV ecosystem for the commercial market. It is establishing a dealership network to support sales and service and plans to help commercial customers set up charging infrastructure.

The cloud-based software platform, which can be accessed on the web or via a mobile app, will let users know how to improve operations, including the best delivery routes and other fleet management features, according to GM. Electric vans and pallets will feature an array of connected features designed to give customers better ways to monitor and manage vehicles Location monitoring, battery status and remote commands to lock and unlock.

Image Credit: GM

BrightDrop is the latest “startup” to exit the automaker’s global innovation effort, an in-house organization that has launched OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian and GM Defense. Travis Katz, who was an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint Ventures, has been named CEO and president of Brightdrop.

The idea for Brightdrop was spruced up by a team within the Global Innovation Organization that was evaluating the growth of e-commerce and consumer demand for online delivery, developed by COVID-19.

“The more we learn about the demands and challenges of distribution and logistics from the first five miles to that first mile, the more we saw an opportunity to leverage GM’s expertise in things like electrification, mobility applications, telematics, fleet management. Pam Fletcher, General Motors’ vice president of global innovation, said in a media briefing ahead of the announcement, “Goods and services are pushed forward in a smarter and more sustainable way.”

This opportunity is significant based on GM’s projections. The automaker said that by By 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcels, food delivery and reverse logistics in the US will exceed $ 850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, urban last mile delivery demand is expected to grow 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 increase delivery-related carbon emissions by about one-third.


Image Credit: GM

The first product of the business unit is called EP1, Propulsion-assisted, electric pallet was developed to move goods over short distances. For instance, it can be used to ship goods from a warehouse to a delivery van. The pod 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 pod speed will adjust based on the operator’s walking speed.

The EP1, which GM says is designed to maneuver in tight spaces, can carry approximately 23 cubic feet of cargo space and a payload of up to 200 pounds. Inside the pod are adjustable shelves and lockable cabinet doors to allow remote access to whatever items are being carried.

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

Brightdrop and FedEx Express have another pilot to take place in a major urban center in the US this quarter.


Brightdrop GM Electric Van FedEx

Image Credit: GM

The electric delivery van is the vehicle designed and manufactured by GM’s Ultimate Architecture – the heart of the company’s EV strategy. The first van will be delivered to FedEx later this year. Brightdrop hopes to make the EV600 available to more customers by early 2022.

The vehicle will be able to travel one Estimated 250 miles on a single charge. At its peak Charge rate will be up to 170 miles EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging according to GM.

Inside is huge Comes with 600 cubic feet of cargo area and a security system to keep luggage safe. It has a 13.4-inch-diagonal, full-color infotainment screen, front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkway, and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door.

Electric vans come standard with advanced driver assistance technology found in their consumer vehicles, including the F.ront and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking and other warnings to keep the driver in the lane. The van also comes standard with a forward collision warning following distance indicators, front pedestrian braking and automatic high beam and HD razor vision cameras.

Customers can pump safety features and add options like rYear cross traffic braking, blind zone steering assist, reverse automatic braking, HD surround vision, rear pedestrian alert and enhanced automatic emergency braking.