BrightDrop, General Motors' Shiny New Delivery Business

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

General Motors has rolled out BrightDrop, moving them further into the business of first-to-last-mile products, software, and services for delivery and logistics.

“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO.

To lower costs, maximize productivity, improve safety, increase security, and support sustainability, Barra said, “We are building on our electrification expertise, mobility applications, telematics and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution for commercial customers to move goods.”

BrightDrop is another brilliant idea from GM’s Global Innovation unit, along with a gaggle of other recent GM startups, such as OnStar Insurance, OnStar Guardian, and GM Defense. From a growth perspective, this is meant to attract investors who see GM as a tech firm, and less so an automaker, a part of what GM revealed during the Consumer Electronics Show.

By 2025, GM estimates the opportunity for parcel, food delivery, and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be over $850 billion. Citing the World Economic Forum, urban last-mile delivery demand by 2030 is expected to grow by 78 percent, a 36 percent increase in the world’s top 100 cities. This demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.

To meet the demand and reduce the environmental impact, one of BrightDrop’s solutions is the EP1, an electric pallet. Reducing package touchpoints and costs, the EP1 runs at up to 3 mph, maneuvers in tight spaces, has 23 cubic feet of cargo-carrying capability, a 200-pound payload capacity, and lockable doors.

BrightDrop’s second big idea is the EV600, an electric light delivery vehicle that offers zero emissions, and safety and convenience features more commonly found in consumer EVs. The EV600 is powered by an Ultium battery system with a 250-mile range, with a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour by 120kW DC fast charging. With over 600 cubic feet of cargo area, the EV600 is available with a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.

The first EV600s will be delivered by the end of this year, and FedEx Express will be the first recipient. “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. “BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow.” Maybe its early adoption of BrightDrop will cause investors to relax, because it’s FedEx. For a company that lives to deliver, BrightDrop couldn’t ask for a better partner.

[Images: BrightDrop]

Jason R. Sakurai
Jason R. Sakurai

With a father who owned a dealership, I literally grew up in the business. After college, I worked for GM, Nissan and Mazda, writing articles for automotive enthusiast magazines as a side gig. I discovered you could make a living selling ad space at Four Wheeler magazine, before I moved on to selling TV for the National Hot Rod Association. After that, I started Roadhouse, a marketing, advertising and PR firm dedicated to the automotive, outdoor/apparel, and entertainment industries. Through the years, I continued writing, shooting, and editing. It keep things interesting.

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  • Buickman Buickman on Jan 14, 2021

    there is a market for these units and a good opportunity for GM.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jan 18, 2021

    Good god. It's back to '50s in the UK when I was a kid. Electric milk floats, electric travelling fruit and veg vans with drop down sides to tour city residential areas on a schedule. Few people had cars, and who wanted to carry spuds a mile from the shopping main street? Most side streets were without bus service. Also, such services meant old people and the infirm only had to struggle out to the street to get groceries, not walk miles, use friends or call a taxi. When we came to Canada in '59 and lived in a rural area, big old Dodge vans were used to provide the same sort of service, house to house. The intervening years saw a actual reduction in food availability, because you HAD to drive to get supplies at a supermarket in town. Other even more remote areas had the mailman used as a grocery hauler, picking up orders for delivery. It all worked well enough. What I'm saying is, all this stuff has been done before, but few living have seen it and think it's all new. Of course local delivery should be by EVs, particularly in heavily populated areas. Gotta get your new shiny cardboard box full of amazon junk somehow.

  • THX1136 I would not 'knowingly' purchase a Chinese built or brand. I am somewhat skeptical of actual build quality. What I've seen in other Chinese made products show them to be of low quality/poor longevity. They are quite good at 'copying' a design/product, but often they appear to take shortcuts by using less reliable materials and/or parts. And , yes, I know that is not exclusive to Chinese products. When I was younger 'made in Japan' was synonymous with poor quality (check John Entwistle's tune 'Made in Japan' out for a smile). This is not true today as much of Japan's output is considered very favorably and, in some product types, to be of superior quality. I tend to equate the same notion today for things 'made in China'.
  • Mike Beranek No, but I'm for a world where everyone, everywhere buys cars (and everything else) that are sourced and assembled regionally. Shipping big heavy things all over the planet is not a solution.
  • Jeffrey No not for me at this time
  • El scotto Hmm, my VPN and security options have 12-month subscriptions. Car dealers are not accountable to anyone except the owner. Of course, the dealer principles are running around going "state of the art security!", "We need dedicated IT people!" For the next 12 months. The hackers can wait.
  • El scotto Chip it, NOS it, Wrap it, go buy hipster jeans.