In the early days of 2021 it’s become abundantly clear that GM plans to hit the ground running with its EVs—pandemic or not. While all of its other brand’s upcoming electric entries like the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq are going to be sold within the bounds of existing companies, GM has just announced a brand new one specifically for electric delivery vehicles: BrightDrop.
A 250-mile electric delivery van, dubbed the “EV600,” will be sold under this name, but also many other business-assisting electric vehicles as well, starting with a sort of electric pallet on wheels called the “EP1.” Both of these machines are intended to be sold directly to businesses, and apparently, GM has been keeping its head down and quietly finding customers for both the EV600 and EP1. Shipping service FedEx will be among the first buyers of the vehicle, which is doubtlessly a huge contract. While certainly, a company like Tesla would be quick to put out a press release if they had been testing a delivery vehicle with the likes of FedEx, GM has apparently been doing it for some time and said absolutely nothing.
We don’t know a ton about the EV600, but GM has released a few specifications of it. First of all, the aforementioned range of 250-miles is pretty standard for a delivery vehicle, and it comes courtesy of a GM Ultium battery pack. It can recharge 170 miles—68 percent of its total capacity—in one hour thanks to 120-kW DC fast-charging. The van also has an impressive storage capacity of 600 cubic feet and a GVWR of 10,000 pounds.
It also appears as if the EV600 will have a plethora of sensors and cameras to make it as appealing as possible to fleet customers. Features like front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, automatic high beams and an HD rear-view camera will all be available standard. Other features like rear cross-traffic braking, blind zone steering assist, reverse automatic braking, HD surround-vision, rear pedestrian alert, and enhanced automatic emergency braking will also be available as options.
As far as the EP1 goes—no, not the EV1—it’s basically a big electric shelf that carries things for delivery drivers or logistics workers. Looking something like a big computer tower, it can travel at speeds of up to 3 miles per hour, being guided along by a person in front of it. Its payload is said to be in the region of 200 pounds, which is a pretty good amount of weight for such a machine. It appears to have regular castor-style wheels, so I’m afraid that delivery drivers in rural areas will have to continue to do some heavy lifting. Those servicing urban areas with more pavement will be a bit luckier in this regard.
Like the EV600, the EP1 will be capable of receiving updates over the air, and companies will be able to manage them wirelessly as well, monitoring things like the machines’ location and battery status. GM says the “electric pallet” has adjustable shelving as well, to suit a variety of situations. Frankly, it may have just been more useful to create literally an electric pallet-on-wheels, but there’s no doubt GM did its research about what a company like FedEx might want and need.
The brand assures us that these are not the first logistics vehicles to come from his new BrightDrop brand, and although prices for these things have yet to be announced, we do know that they’re coming by the end of this year. And the sooner they arrive, the better. The Detroit automaker is going to want to get a head start on companies like Rivian, who plan to sell Amazon 100,000 new delivery vans and even other small manufacturers like Canoo who might eat into its market share. With a short but promising EV track record, GM certainly has everything to gain from this venture, but a lot to lose as well.
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