US automotive manufacturer General Motors (GM) has announced a new business that will offer electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services for delivery and logistics companies.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. “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.”
BrightDrop’s first product is EP1, a propulsion-assisted electric pallet developed to move goods over short distances, such as from a delivery vehicle to a customer’s front door. Available in early 2021, EP1 is designed to help reduce package touch points, costs and physical strain on delivery drivers.
The e-pallet will feature built-in electric hub motors with adjustable speed up to 3mph. Developed to be manoeuvrable in tight spaces, it will be able to carry and secure approximately 23ft3 of cargo, with a payload capacity of 200 lb. What’s more, EP1 will have adjustable shelving to organise contents and lockable cabinet doors to allow for secure, remote access to contents.
A mobile asset management platform will enable EP1 connectivity and provide customers with real-time features, including location monitoring, battery status, remote commands to lock and unlock, and over-the-air updates of connected features.
An EP1 pilot programme has already been completed in partnership with FedEx Express. During the pilot, FedEx Express couriers handled 25% more packages per day with the EP1s. According to FedEx Express, its couriers found the vehicles 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 USA this quarter. FedEx Express is also slated to be the first customer of BrightDrop’s second product, the EV600, receiving its vehicles later this year.
The EV600 is an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. It will combine zero-emissions driving with advanced safety and convenience features more common in consumer EVs, said GM.
Powered by an Ultium battery system, the EV600 is targeted to have an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge, with a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charging.
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.
Furthermore, the EV600’s 600ft3 cargo area will feature a security system with motion sensors to help keep cargo secure. The vehicle will also come with a 13.4-inch-diagonal, full-colour infotainment screen, front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door to optimise driver efficiency.
An EV fleet management platform enabling EV600 connectivity will provide fleet operators remote access, real-time location, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching and incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.
The first EV600s are to be delivered to customers by the end of this year, with more to be made available to more customers to order starting in early 2022. A number of other concepts are also being explored, such as a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s and a rapid load delivery vehicle concept.
BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the USA and Canada. It will have a customer support team to assist with operating and servicing BrightDrop products, including supporting charging and infrastructure installation, advising on upfitting services, and retrofitting a current fleet vehicle to integrate with BrightDrop products.