GM to build electric delivery vans under new BrightDrop brand

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Washington (AFP)

General Motors on Tuesday unveiled plans to build electric vans under the new BrightDrop brand, with the aim of creating a new ecosystem for delivering goods.

“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra, GM President and CEO, during the unveiling of the new brand at the virtual consumer electronics show.

GM is teaming up with delivery giant Fedex to test new vehicles and deliver what Barra has called a “one-stop-shop solution.”

The move comes with GM and other automakers racing to keep pace with the dizzying growth of electric car maker Tesla, and as Amazon prepares to launch its own electric delivery vans from the startup. Rivian.

GM said the new brand aims to offer “an integrated ecosystem of electrical products, software and services.”

The new business unit will provide a platform for transportation from warehouses to retailers as well as for door-to-door deliveries, the U.S. auto giant says, targeting a share of what it sees as an $ 850 billion market. for parcels, food delivery and other logistics, fueled by the boom in online commerce.

Its “electric pallet” called BrightDrop EP1 will be available in early 2021 and will be a propulsion-assisted system to move goods over short distances, such as from a vehicle to the customer’s front door.

“Don’t be surprised to see couriers driving EP1s on our sidewalks over the next few months,” Barra said in her streaming presentation.

The first electric van called the EV600 will hit the roads at the end of 2021, GM said.

“We are leveraging our significant expertise in electrification, mobility applications, telematics and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution allowing commercial customers to move goods in a better and more sustainable way” , said Barra.

GM also unveiled a new fast-charging system for vehicles called the Ultium platform.

The EV600 is designed to have an estimated range of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) on a full charge.

– FedEx partner –

GM said it tested the pallets with FedEx Express and found that couriers were able to increase their deliveries by 25% while reducing physical fatigue.

FedEx will also be the first customer for EV600 vehicles to be delivered later this year.

“Our need for reliable and sustainable transportation has never been greater,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express Americas Regional President.

GM has stepped up efforts to switch to electric vehicles and on Tuesday offered a preview of its Cadillac EV to be called Celestiq and a new version of its Bolt EV.

“All of this cutting-edge technology puts GM in an incredible position to help accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles,” said Barra.

GM separately unveiled its autonomous air taxi concept at the 2021 electronics show.

The U.S. auto giant offered a few details, posting only a video of the Cadillac-branded electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft on its digital exhibit page.

Several aerospace companies and startups have shown similar flying cars in recent years, although there are no apparent plans for immediate commercialization.

Jessica Caldwell of automotive research firm Edmunds said GM was making progress on its electric program.

“GM has made it clear that it is not just about making cars,” Caldwell said.

“And while it’s an ambitious goal to launch its own commercial delivery platform, it’s a fortuitous moment for GM to do so given the e-commerce boom the industry has experienced over the past 10 months. . ”

The news came as the big electronics show opened its first all-digital event which was forced online due to the pandemic.

This year’s CES features some 1,800 exhibitors, less than half of last year’s number, and dozens of lectures and presentations online.

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