FedEx is launch customer for new GM electric vehicles business
General Motors has unveiled a new electric vehicles business named BrightDrop and secured FedEx as launch customer.
BrightDrop will offer an ecosystem of electric first-to-last-mile products, software and services to empower delivery and logistics companies to move goods more efficiently, the US car giant said. These solutions are designed to help businesses lower costs, maximize productivity, improve employee safety and freight security, and support overall sustainability efforts.
"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."
Electric pallet for doorstep deliveries
BrightDrop's first product to market, the EP1, will be a propulsion-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, the EP1 can help reduce package touch points, costs and physical strain on delivery drivers.
New electric van
BrightDrop's second product to market will be the EV600 — an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. It will combine zero-emissions driving with a range of advanced safety and convenience features more common in consumer electric vehicles.
Powered by the Ultium battery system, the EV600 is targeted to have an estimated range of up to 250 miles on a full charge and will offer over 600 cubic feet of cargo area. Front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door all contribute to optimize driver efficiency.
GM said that 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.
In addition, BrightDrop offers an integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces. Built-in connectivity provides businesses with detailed data and insights that can help improve overall operations, including route efficiency, asset utilization and product upgrades. Drivers and couriers can utilize the mobile application for a variety of tasks.
However, the EP1 and EV600 are only the beginning, according to GM. The new business will continue to grow its product offerings over time to include a portfolio of integrated, zero-emissions products to help drive further efficiencies and address emerging customer needs. A number of concepts are being explored, such as a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s, and a rapid load delivery vehicle concept.
FedEx Express tests BrightDrop products
GM said that BrightDrop “is the result of extensive research and listening to challenges faced by delivery customers and then leveraging GM expertise to develop real-life solutions”.
For example, an EP1 pilot program has already been completed in partnership with FedEx Express. During the pilot, FedEx Express couriers were able to effectively and safely handle 25% more packages per day with the EP1s. FedEx Express couriers shared feedback that the EP1s were easy to maneuver and reduced physical strain.
With plans to continue innovating, BrightDrop and FedEx Express now have another pilot scheduled to take place in one of the biggest urban centers of the U.S. this 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. With this new suite of products, we will help improve the safety, security and timeliness of FedEx Express deliveries, while reducing our environmental impact and protecting the well-being of our couriers."
BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the U.S. and Canada. Customers will connect with the company through an independent sales and service network, leveraging a newly established dealer network to support vehicle sales and service.