Earlier this year, General Motors announced the creation of Brightdrop, a new startup company focused on bringing electric delivery vans to market. GM anticipates the last mile delivery segment for parcel and food delivery could be worth as much as $850 billion by 2025 and it wants to get there firstest with the mostest.
The company’s first offering is the EV600, so named because it will have more than 600 cubic feet of cargo capacity. Based on GM’s Ultium battery technology, it features high power charging at levels up to 125 kW and a range of up to 250 miles. GM already has orders for 500 of the EV600 from Fed Ex and 12,000 from Merchants Fleet.
Interest in the EV600 has been so strong, in fact, that GM announced this week it is moving the start of production forward by several months and doubling the number of trucks it expects to build. According to GM Authority, the EV600 will be manufactured at the CAMI factory in Ingersoll, Ontario. A single shift will begin building them later this year with a second shift being added soon afterward.
Follow The Money
What is driving demand for the EV600? “Folks on the commercial side don’t really care about the technology — they care about the economics,” Brett Smith, director of technology at research firm CAR, tells TechCrunch. Reduced expenses from a combination of lower maintenance and lower fuel costs are what get the attention of fleet managers, who typically track total operating expenses down to the tenth of a cent per mile.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said GM CEO Mary Barra when she announced the new startup at CES. “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 BrightDrop EV600 offers fleet managers another incentive. Each vehicle will feature advanced connectivity that will allow them to know where every vehicle is in real time as well as providing remote battery and charging management, driver safety coaching, incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts, predictive maintenance insights, and over the air updates.
A Full Suite Of Safety Features
People don’t often associate road accidents with the cost of operating a fleet of vehicles, but every time a delivery van has an encounter with another vehicle, a pedestrian, or a bicyclist during the work day, lost productivity and higher insurance premiums are the result. The EV600 comes standard with front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist, lane departure warning, automatic high beams, and a rear vision camera.
Optional safety and driver assistance features include rear cross-traffic braking, blind zone steering assist, reverse automatic braking, Surround Vision, rear pedestrian alert, and enhanced automatic emergency braking, among others.
Styling wise, the EV600 delivery van is not much to look at, but from the perspective of a fleet owner, it is a thing of beauty.
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