GM Launches BrightDrop, Its Commercial EV Brand

BrightDrop is GM’s latest business initiative.

GM is all-in with electric vehicles, with plans to release 30 new models over the coming years. It’s a big deal for this automaker, which recently updated its logo to emphasize its thrust into all things EV.

BrightDrop Commercial EV Brand

On the commercial side of the house, GM announced that it is launching a new EV brand. Called BrightDrop, the endeavor represents an all-encompassing integrated ecosystem of electric products, including software and services for the first to the last mile. Moreover, BrightDrop has an available electric pallet, the EP1, slated for release early this year with the EV600 electric light commercial vehicle appearing later in the year.

GM also announced that BrightDrop has its first customer, FedEx Express. Notably, a pilot program developed in partnership with FedEx Express has already been completed. GM says that FedEX Express couriers were “able to effectively and safely handle 25 percent more packages per day with EP1s.” GM describes the EP1 as “a propulsion-assisted, electric pallet developed to easily move goods over short distances.”

EP1 Pallet; EV600 Commercial Vehicle

One example noted was how the pallet works from the delivery vehicle to the front door. Specifically, the pallet has built-in electric hub motors with an adjustable speed up to 3 mph, which is dependent on the operator’s walking pace. Other attributes of the pallet is that its maneuverable in tight spaces, holds up to 23 cubic feet of cargo, possesses a payload capacity of 200 pounds, includes adjustable shelving for organizing content, and features lockable cabinet doors allowing for the secure and remote access of its contents.

The vehicle itself is the EV600, a purpose-built electric light commercial vehicle developed for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. This zero-emissions vehicle will include many of the safety and convenience features inherent to consumer electric vehicles.

FedEx Express is the first customer for the Brightdrop EV600.

GM says the EV600 will be powered by its proprietary Ultium battery system, with a targeted estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge. It has a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour, utilizing a 120-kilowatt DC fast charging connection.

Additionally, some other features include 600 cubic feet of cargo area and an available gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of under 10,000 pounds.

Advanced Standard Safety Features

The EV600 features standard automatic high beams, front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, and an HD rear vision camera. In addition, among the other safety features available include rear cross-traffic braking, blind zone steering assist, reverse automatic braking, HD surround vision, rear pedestrian alert, and enhanced automatic emergency braking.

To secure the cargo area, the EV600 includes a motion-sensor-activated security system. Other features include a 13.4-inch-diagonal full-color infotainment screen, front sliding door pockets, wide cabin walkways, and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door.

The EP1 is a propulsion-assisted, electric pallet developed to move goods more efficiently over short distances. The EP1 can help reduce package touch points, overall operational costs and physical strain on the labor force.

An integrated, cloud-based software program promises to supply customers with enhanced route efficiency, asset utilization, and product upgrades. It’s designed to allow drivers and couriers to utilize the mobile application for a variety of tasks.

The BrightDrop mobile asset management features supply EP1 connectivity for customers, including such real-time features as location monitoring, battery status, remote commands for locking and unlocking, and over-the-air updates of connected features. The fleet management side also benefits, by supplying operators with remote access, real-time location, remote diagnostics, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching and incident recording, safety alerts, predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.

Beyond the Initial Models

GM says that BrightDrop will expand to include more products beyond the EP1 and EV600. The company is looking at various options to address customer needs, including a medium-distance solution for transporting multiple electric pallets. A rapid load delivery vehicle concept is also in the works.

Following the initial pilot program, GM will work with FedEx Express to roll out a more encompassing test in a not-yet-announced large urban center during this quarter. The first EV600s will be delivered to FedEx Express later this year.

BrightDrop offers an integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces. The BrightDrop mobile asset management platform provides insights to an EP1, including its real-time location, battery status, remote commands to lock and unlock, and over-the-air updates of connected features.

New President and CEO

GM says that BrightDrop will serve customers in the United States and Canada initially. The company appointed Travis Katz as president and CEO, who previously served as the entrepreneur-in-residence with Redpoint Ventures, a venture capitalist firm. Katz’ background includes extensive experience as a technology leader, entrepreneur, and investor.

See AlsoWill the Electric Vehicle Boom Create New-Found Dependencies for Foreign Minerals?

Photos copyright GM Corp. (BrightDrop).

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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