Canadian Manufacturing

GM charges up new unit to sell electric delivery vans, gear

BrightDrop also will offer software and operational support for delivery businesses such as location services, battery status and remote unlocking.

January 12, 2021  by Associated Press

The market for battery-powered delivery vehicles and equipment has so much potential that General Motors is forming a new business unit to serve it.

The first product for the new venture called BrightDrop will be an electric-powered wheeled pallet that will take goods from the warehouse to trucks and from trucks to destinations. Then GM will roll out a clean electric delivery van.

The pallet, named EP1, will go on sale early this year, with the EV600 van on the roads late in the year with 500 going to FedEx, the company’s first customer.

BrightDrop also will offer software and operational support for delivery businesses such as location services, battery status and remote unlocking.

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But GM doesn’t intend to get into the delivery business, said Pamela Fletcher, GM’s vice-president of global innovation. “One thing we are not is a logistics company,” she said, adding that GM is working with many companies with experience in the field.

Since late 2018, Fletcher, has been in charge of monetizing GM technology by turning ideas into businesses. “We really need to leverage our electrification expertise to other industries,” she said.

Showing Wall Street’s fascination with electric vehicles, GM shares rose to their highest intraday price since the company left bankruptcy protection in 2010. Shares were up 7.3% to $48.25 in midday trading on Jan. 12.

On a webcast, Fletcher said the EP1 pallet can travel up to 3 mph, carrying up to 23 cubic feet of cargo weighing up to 200 pounds. The pallets can reduce the strain on workers but would not operate autonomously, at least to start.

As BrightDrop evolves, it will offer more electric-powered products including a medium-distance vehicle that can carry multiple pallets, the company said.

Last year, Ford Motor Co., GM’s main U.S. competitor, announced plans for an electric commercial van that will go on sale late in 2021.

GM has pledged to roll out 30 new electric vehicles globally and spend $27 billion developing them by 2025. New vehicles coming out this year include the electric GMC Hummer pickup, a Chevrolet Bolt electric utility vehicle and the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV.


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