GM announces electric product delivery system

GM announces electric product delivery system

Electrified pallet, EV delivery van to be released this year.

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Detroit, Michigan – With interest in commercial electric vehicles (EV) from Rivian, Lordstown Motors, Nikola, and other startups gaining steam, General Motors (GM) plans to launch an entire delivery system, from assisted product handling devices that move goods around a warehouse to vans that delivery products to customers.

BrightDrop will include products, software, and service contracts, said GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra.

“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” Barra said. “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.”

GM estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be more than $850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fueled 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.

BrightDrop’s first product to market, the EP1, will an electric pallet developed to easily move goods over short distances – for example, from the delivery vehicle to the customer’s front door. Workers will push and guide the pallet, but its electric motors will handle propulsion. Like future GM EVs, it will use Ultium batteries made by the GM/LG Chem joint venture battery plant under construction in Ohio.

Available in early 2021, the EP1 can reduce package touch points, costs, and physical strain on delivery drivers. The pallet will feature:

  • Built-in electric hub motors with adjustable speed up to 3 mph depending on operator’s walking pace
  • Maneuverability in tight spaces
  • 23ft3 cargo space
  • 200 lb max. payload
  • Adjustable shelving
  • Lockable cabinet doors

BrightDrop’s second product to market will be the EV600 – an electric van designed for extended range use. Features include:

  • 250 mile range (estimated)
  • 170 miles per hour peak recharge rate via 120kW DC fast charging.
  • More than 600ft3 cargo space
  • Less than 10,000 lb gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR)
  • Suite of safety features: front, rear park assist; automatic emergency braking; forward collision alert; following distance indicator; front pedestrian braking; lane-keep assist; automatic high-beam headlights; HD rear camera
  • Motion sensors to monitor cargo area
  • Front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways, large auto-open cargo bulkhead

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.

GM engineers developed the BrightDrop system and products during test programs with FedEx Express, which has already completed a pilot program using the EP1 pallet. During the pilot, FedEx Express couriers handled 25% more packages per day.

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

“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support. "BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow."