General Motors Launches New Startup 'BrightDrop' for Electric Delivery Vehicles

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【Summary】The new startup company will focus on making electric delivery vehicles and offer other services to companies like FedEx and UPS.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Feb 22, 2021 8:00 AM PT
General Motors Launches New Startup 'BrightDrop' for Electric Delivery Vehicles

This year's all-digital CES may not have the same allure as past years, but automakers and companies are still making some massive announcements. One of the major ones came from General Motors' CEO Mary Barra who announced a new startup called BrightDrop. The startup is a logistics-focused unit for the automaker that will offer technology and services to companies like FedEx and UPS. BrightDrop will also make electric delivery vehicles, the first of which will be called the EV600.

GM Has A New Electric Van

The battery-powered, zero-emission van will be used by FedEx and UPS to deliver packages. Power for the EV600 will come from GM's new Ultium batteries, which should give the commercial van a range of up to 250 miles. For those keeping score, that's better than Ford's new E-Transit that has a range of 126 miles.

Right off the bat, the EV600 looks like it will have a major advantage over the E-Transit. When plugged into a 120-kW DC fast charger, the EV600 will be able to get 170 miles of range back in an hour. As a work vehicle, the van will offer drivers plenty of space for packages. Thanks to the position of the batteries and electric motors, the EV600 will have more than 600 cubic feet of cargo space.

FedEx will get the first 500 units of BrightDrop's EV600 delivery van. GM, FedEx, and BrightDrop had a pilot program that revealed it would improve the delivery company's sustainability, safety, and efficiency.

"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 statement.

Electric Vans Are Heating Up

Obviously, BrightDrop's EV600 van is a direct competitor to Amazon and Rivian's upcoming electric van. Both electric vehicles will have a different design, but BrightDrop will also offer software and services in addition to its van. That won't be the case for Rivian and Amazon. The EV600's high-tech cabin will also be a good way to differentiate the two.

On the inside, the EV600 will come with a 13.4-inch full-color infotainment screen, motion sensors in the cargo area, and easy access to the rear of the van. A decent amount of standard safety features, including automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and automatic high beams, will be included. Reverse automatic emergency braking, blind spot warning, and rear cross traffic alert will be optional.

As a delivery vehicle, the EV600 will have a cloud-based software platform that gives businesses a variety of ways to monitor the vehicle. Via the cloud, companies can perform remote diagnostics, monitor battery charge, release over-the-air updates, and track the vehicle.

While FedEx and UPS will get the first few examples of the EV600, other companies will be able to purchase the electric delivery van through an independent BrightDrop sales and service network starting in 2022. Information on how much the EV600 costs isn't available yet, but we're sure it will be a pricey machine.

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