Today at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2021, General Motors announced the creation of a new division that will focus on the delivery sector. The BrightDrop division will offer an integrated ecosystem in which reside electrical products, software and services touching on the first to the last mile of product delivery.
Ultium goes commercial
From the electric delivery pallet (the EP1, available in early 2021) to the EV600 electric light commercial vehicle (set to hit the road in late 2021), BrightDrop will introduce GM's Ultium platform to the commercial vehicle segment with a model that offers a range of 400 km. FedEx Express will be the first customer of the new integrated solution.
A growing market
GM estimates that by 2025, the combined U.S. parcel, food delivery and logistics market will be worth more than $850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for last-mile delivery in urban areas, fueled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78 percent by 2030, resulting in a 36 percent increase in delivery vehicles in the world's 100 largest cities.
At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to drive up delivery-related carbon emissions by nearly one-third.
“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.”
A new company integrated with GM
BrightDrop was born out of GM's Global Innovation entity and joins a range of other start-ups such as OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian and GM Defense. From a growth strategy perspective, the new company will open up B2B domains, extend the Ultium platform and develop software and services.
BrightDrop's first product to be commercialized, the EP1, will be a power-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 in the U.S. and some time later in Canada, the EP1 will help reduce package contact points, costs and physical demands on delivery drivers. Some of the features and benefits of the EP1 include:
- Hub-integrated electric motor with an adjustable speed of up to 3 mph based on the operator's walking pace.
- Maneuverable in tight spaces.
- Carries and secures approximately 23 cu ft of cargo in total.
- Payload capacity of 200 lb.
- Adjustable shelves for organizing contents.
- Lockable cabinet doors providing secure remote access to contents.
BrightDrop's second product to hit the market will be the EV600, a van specifically designed for the delivery of goods and services over longer distances. It is 100-percent electric and can cover 400 km on a single charge of Ultium batteries. It also offers:
- More than 600 cu ft of cargo space.
- Front and rear parking assistance, automatic emergency braking, forward collision warning, tracking distance indicator, pedestrian front braking, lane assist with lane departure warning, IntelliBeam automatic high beam headlights and HD rearview camera.
- Other safety and driver assistance features available: Rear braking against cross traffic, Blind Zone Steering Assist, Auto Reverse Braking, HD 360 degree vision, Rear Pedestrian Alert, Enhanced Auto Emergency Braking, among others.
- Cargo Area Safety System with motion sensors to help secure cargo.
- A 13.4-in diagonal colour infotainment screen.
- Sliding pocket doors at the front, wide passages in the cabin and a large self-opening door in the load compartment to help optimize driver efficiency.
The first EV600s will be delivered by the end of the year to FedEx Express and GM has confirmed that it is in discussions with several other carriers and delivery companies, though for now it is not saying which ones.
Integrated Management System
In addition to the EV 600 pallet system and truck, BrightDrop’s offerings include an integrated, cloud-based software platform that enables customers to view and access their BrightDrop products through web and mobile interfaces. The integrated connectivity provides businesses with detailed data and information that can help them improve their overall operations, including route efficiency, asset utilization and product upgrades. Drivers and couriers can use the mobile application for a variety of tasks.
BrightDrop Mobile Asset Management
EP1 connectivity provides customers with real-time functionality, including location monitoring, battery status, remote lock/unlock controls and live updates of connected features.
BrightDrop EV Fleet Management
EV600 connectivity provides fleet operators with remote access, real-time location, battery and charge management, driver safety support and incident logging, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance information, as well as live updates.
The EP1 and EV600 are just the beginning. BrightDrop will continue to expand its product offering over time to include a portfolio of integrated zero-emission products to increase efficiency and meet new customer needs. A number of concepts are under consideration, such as a medium-distance solution that can carry multiple EP1s, and a quick-loading delivery vehicle concept.
BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the United States and Canada. GM then aims to expand this service to Europe, Asia and around the world.