General Motors has announced it will build BrightDrop electric light commercial vehicles at its CAMI manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ont. – part of a $1 billion investment to bring the BrightDrop EV600 to market in late 2021.
The deal, subject to government support and ratification of a tentative agreement by Unifor, will see the facility transformed from a Chevrolet Equinox line over the next two years.
The new BrightDrop business unit’s first products are to include the EP1 electric e-pallet, the EV600 commercial van, and fleet and asset management software.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said GM chairman and CEO Mary Barra. “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 OEM estimates the U.S. parcel, food delivery, and reverse logistics market will be worth more than $850 billion as early as 2025. And in a related press released it quoted the World Economic Forum’s projection that urban last-mile delivery activities will grow 78% by 2030, leading to a 36% increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities.
The first of the products to come to market, the EP1, is an electric pallet that can move goods over short distances, such as from a delivery vehicle to a customer’s door. Tapping into electric hub motors it will move up to about 5 km/h depending on the user’s walking pace. It will carry about 23 cubic feet of cargo and handle 200-lb. payloads.
The EV600 vehicle will travel up to 400 km (250 miles) on a full charge, powered by an Ultium battery system. A 120kW DC fast charger will offer a range of up to 275 km (170 miles) per hour. The van will feature more than 600 cubic feet of carbo area, and be available with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 lb., the OEM says.
Standard driver assistance features will include front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alerts, following distance indicators, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist, IntelliBeam automatic high beams, and a high-definition rear vision camera.
Other available features are to include options such as rear cross traffic braking, blind zone steering assist, reverse automatic braking, HD surround vision, rear pedestrian alert, and enhanced automatic emergency braking. Motion sensors in the cargo area will help keep cargo secure.
While the first vehicles are to be delivered by the end of this year, the EV600 will be more widely available in early 2022, GM says.
FedEx Express has already been piloting the EP1, helping couriers to handle about 25% more packages per day. The company is also slated to be the first EV600 user.
“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support.
“This tentative deal delivers significant investment, new products, new jobs, and job security, achieving our union’s key bargaining priorities during these challenging times,” said Unifor national president Jerry Dias, referring to the related negotiations on behalf of plant workers.
Results of the union’s ratification vote are expected today.