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Category: Transportation and Logistics

Supply Chain News: GM Enters Electric Van, Dolly Market with New Business Unit

 

New BrightDrop Unit Successfully Piloted New Products with FedEx

Jan. 13, 2021
 

General Motors, which has been mostly in the electric truck news recently with regard to its on and then off again partnership with Nikola Motors, is entering the electricity-powered delivery truck and accessory market in a big way on its own.

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During the pilot program with FedEx, drivers were able to safely handle 25% more packages per day using the EP1, GM says.


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The company announced this week the launch later this month of a start-up to be called BrightDrop that will focus on electric freight vehicles.

The new business until will start with two products: The EP1, an electrically powered pallet or dolly to move packages, and the EV600, a large commercial electric van.

Both products are designed to capitalize on robust growth on for ecommerce and home delivery.

The move is the latest in the GM's strategy to commercialize the battery technology it has been developing in-house, on what the company calls its Ultium battery platform.

The company is building a $2.3 billion battery factory in Ohio with South Korea's LG Chem to produce battery cells that GM says will eventually bring down the cost of electric vehicles.

GM said a pilot program with FedEx showed the e-trucks helped improve FedEx's efficiency, safely and sustainability. BrightDrop will deliver 500 of the EV600 trucks to FedEx, as its first customer, later this year.

"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," said GM CEO Mary Barra in a press release.

GM says the EV600 will provide a 250-mile range on a single battery charge, and will have more than 600 cubic feet of cargo area.


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BrightDrop will also help fleet customers establish charging stations for the van, GM said.

The new GM truck will compete in a crowded field, with the EV600 battling a recently introduced electric delivery van from traditional car and truck rival Ford, as well as electric-truck startup Rivian Automotive, which is making tens of thousands of electric vans for Amazon, among other global e-truck makers.

BrightDrop's first product, however, will be the EP1, a power-assisted "electric pallet" – really a type of powered dolly - to move goods over short distances, such as from the delivery truck to a front door or within a distribution or sortation center. (See photo below.)

 

GM says the EP1 will offer the following features:

• Built-in electric hub motor that can go up to 3 mph.
• Easy maneuverability in tight spaces.
• Capacity to carry about 23 total cubic feet of cargo, with lockable doors
• Weight capacity of 200 pounds.
• Adjustable shelving

During the pilot program with FedEx, drivers were able to safely handle 25% more packages per day using the EP1, GM says.

GM said BrightDrop will also provide the back-end Cloud-based software services for commercial customers looking to better manage their electric vehicle fleets.

GM said it is working on other electric vehicles, including a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s, and a rapid load delivery vehicle concept.

Any reaction to these new GM products and business unit? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.


 
 
   

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