GM made a series of announcements at CES and one of the most unexpected was an all-new business called BrightDrop.
Designed to offer an “ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products,” BrightDrop looks to tap into growing demand for electric commercial vehicles.
However, their ambitions are starting much smaller as BrightDrop’s first product will be an electric pallet / cabinet known as the EP1. Set to be launched soon, the cabinet has been designed to help move goods over short distances such as from a delivery vehicle to a customer’s front door.
The cabinet has a payload capacity of 200 lbs (91 kg) and can hold approximately 23 cubic feet (651 liters) of cargo. It also features adjustable shelves, lockable doors and electric hub motors that allow it to travel at speeds up to 3 mph (5 km).
The EP1 will be followed by the EV600, which is a purpose-built delivery van. Detailed specifications haven’t been announced, but GM confirmed the EV600 will use their Ultium battery system and have a range of up to 250 miles (402 km). The delivery van will also support 120kW DC fast chargers and this means the model can be given up to 170 miles (274 km) of range in as little as an hour.
On the practical side of things, the EV600 will have sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and over 600 cubic feet (16,990 liters) of cargo space. The van will also come equipped with a 13.4-inch infotainment system and a cargo area security system with motion sensors.
In terms of safety, the van will come standard with automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert and front pedestrian braking. The EV600 will also be outfitted with IntelliBeam automatic high beam headlights, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, front / rear park assist and an HD rear vision camera.
The EV600 can be equipped with additional safety features such as rear cross traffic braking, reverse automatic braking, rear pedestrian alert and blind zone steering assist. A surround vision camera system will also be available as will other safety features.
GM says interest in the EV600 has been strong and the first vans will be delivered to FedEx by the end of the year. Following this, GM expects to make the van available to more customers starting in early 2022.
While the EVs are interesting, they’re just part of BrightDrop’s business. The company also plans to offer an “integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces.” Among the features are real-time location monitoring as well as battery and charging management.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg as BrightDrop is also exploring a number of other concepts. These include a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s as well as a “rapid load” delivery vehicle.
While it seems odd that GM is bracing out into the delivery market, it shouldn’t be surprising as other EV startups are doing the same. There’s a good reason for this as GM estimates, that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the United States will be over $850 (£624 / €698) billion.