BrightDrop, General Motors' Shiny New Delivery Business

Jason R. Sakurai
by Jason R. Sakurai

brightdrop general motors shiny new delivery business

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]

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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.

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?
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