Detroit-based General Motors Co. today announced a new business, BrightDrop, which will offer electric first-to-last-mile products, software, and services for delivery and logistics companies.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” says Mary Barra, chairman and CEO of GM. “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.”
The service sprung from GM’s Global Innovation organization and joins the lineup of other recently launched Global Innovation startups, such as OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian, and GM Defense. BrightDrop is designed to unlock areas of B2B and expand the automaker’s Ultium battery platform.
GM estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery, and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be more than $850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fueled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78 percent by 2030, leading to a 36 percent increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities.
At the same time, the increase is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.
To meet the surge in demand and offset the impact on the planet, BrightDrop has developed the following:
- BrightDrop EP1 — the company’s first product will be a propulsion-assisted electric pallet developed to move goods over short distances (from the delivery vehicle to the customer’s door, for example). It will be available in 2021 and help reduce package touch points, costs, and physical strain on drivers.
- BrightDrop EV600 — the second product will be an electric light commercial vehicle built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges. It will combine zero-emissions driving with safety and convenience features common on 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. Its peak charge rate will be up to 170 miles of electric vehicle range per hour. The first of the vehicles are expected to be delivered by the end of the year, and ordering availability is expected to be available to more customers starting in early 2022.
BrightDrop will also offer a cloud-based software platform that provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through web and mobile interfaces. Built-in connectivity provides businesses with data that can help improve route efficiency, asset utilization, and product upgrades.
There are also connectivity features for customers, who can use location monitoring, battery status, and over-the-air updates, as well as features for fleet managers.
GM plans to continue to grow BrightDrop’s product offerings to include a portfolio of integrated, zero-emissions products. Concepts being explored include a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s and a rapid load delivery vehicle concept.
An EP1 pilot program already has been completed in partnership with FedEx Express. FedEx Express couriers were able to handle 25 percent more packages per day with the EP1s, saying they were easy to maneuver and reduced physical strain.
The companies have another pilot scheduled to take place this quarter. FedEx Express is also slated to be the first customer of the EV600, receiving vehicles later this year.
“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” says Richard Smith, regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support FedEx Express. “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 and will have a customer support team to assist with every aspect of operating and servicing BrightDrop products, including supporting charging and infrastructure installation, advising on upfitting services, and retrofitting to integrate BrightDrop products. A newly established BrightDrop dealer network will support vehicles sales and service.
Travis Katz, previously entrepreneur-in-residence of venture capital firm Redpoint Ventures, has joined BrightDrop as president and CEO.