BrightDrop Deliveries Begin, Chevy Bolt Deliveries Delayed Again

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FedEx has received the first 5 electric delivery vans from BrightDrop, the General Motors division devoted to making package delivery vehicles that are battery powered rather than diesel powered. Two versions will be offered — the EV600, which has 600 cubic feet of cargo room, a range of 250 miles, and a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds, according to The Verge. BrightDrop will also build the EV410, which reportedly has the same range but has a shorter wheelbase for better maneuverability in congested cities. It has a cargo capacity of 410 cubic feet.

The BrightDrop vans have attracted a lot of interest from fleet operators. FedEx has ordered 500 of them, but Merchants Fleet, one of the largest delivery companies in North America, has ordered 12,600 of them plus 5,400 of the smaller EV 410 vans. Initial production is taking place in the US, but mass production is scheduled to take place in Canada.

The first EV600 vans were delivered to the FedEx facility in Inglewood, California, where they will be housed and maintained. FedEx plans to begin using them to make deliveries in Los Angeles starting in the first half of 2022 and will add more vehicles as BrightDrop makes them available. FedEx has more than 200,000 motorized vehicles in its fleet, of which 2,944 were electric vehicles as of 2019. That number includes electric and hybrid delivery trucks, forklifts, and airport ground service equipment. FedEx says it will invest $2 billion to become carbon neutral by 2040.

FedEx Express participated in a trial last year of another GM electric vehicle, the EP1 electric pallet that can be used to transport packages from a delivery vehicle to a customer’s front door. Using the EP1 allowed FedEx workers to handle 25% more packages a day, GM said.

Chevy Bolt Production Suspended Until End Of February

Chevy Bolt
Chevy Bolt charging in California. Photo by Kyle Field, CleanTechnica.

Things are not so rosy for General Motors when it comes to getting the Chevy Bolt back into production. According to the Detroit News, GM spokesperson Dan Flores said in a statement last week, “GM has notified employees at Orion Assembly the plant will extend downtime through February 2022 to continue prioritizing recall repairs. We will continue to inform employees at the appropriate time of any additional production schedule adjustments, as we continue to focus on battery module replacements.”

Hmmm….is there more to this news than meets the eye? Recently GM said it will spend $4 billion to build a new battery factory with LG Energy Solution near Lansing and to reconfigure the Orion factory to build vehicles based on its Ultium platform. The Detroit News says the electric vehicles GM has in mind are trucks, possibly the newly announced battery-electric Silverado. The company has not disclosed its plans for Orion yet.

The Chevy Bolt is not built on the Ultium platform. Ultium is the future, as far as the company is concerned. The Bolt was never a big sales success, although it was a pretty good car at a time when its closest competitor was the Nissan LEAF. But the market has changed. There are a lot of new EVs available to US customers that play in roughly the same space in the market as the Bolt.

Is it possible The General may opt to replace the Bolt batteries that need replacing and never put the car back into production? It could simply move on from the Bolt the way it did from the minivans it made once the market turned against them, or the unlovely and unloved Pontiac Aztek. There is plenty of precedent at GM for letting some models quietly fade away — the Corvair, the Vega, the Citation, and the Allanté, for instance. Or it could simply buy back all the Bolts and crush them. There is precedent for doing that to electric cars at General Motors as well.

On the reddit EV forum, the news has stirred some to suggest GM might restyle the Bolt slightly, give it a new name, and send it back into the market place to sink or swim. People have suggest variations on the Bolt name, “screw” and “nut” being two of them. I have my own suggestion, one the involves simply rearranging the letters in the existing name. Why not call it “Blot” and add it to the pantheon of failed GM models?

Will GM ever restart the Bolt production line? “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." You can follow him on Substack and LinkedIn but not on Fakebook or any social media platforms controlled by narcissistic yahoos.

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