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GM unveils 250-mile electric van as part of new spin-off business

General Motors announced on Tuesday that it will distribute a new delivery and logistics company called BrightDrop, the first products of which are an electrified pallet and van. Both vehicles, which will be powered by GM’s Ultium battery platform, are slated for release this year.

The announcement of the new logistics company comes as GM reviews a massive, $ 27 billion hub for the company with the design and manufacture of electric vehicles. For example, the company, which is the largest automaker in North America, just unveiled a new logo as part of an overall brand redesign. GM has been on the heels of Tesla and other EV manufacturers as they try to convince its investors that they have a firm grip on the future of electrically powered transport.

BrightDrop will be a key element in this turnaround, with hundreds of thousands of electric delivery vehicles expected to get in the way in the coming years. GM envisions the new company “creating a one-stop-shop, a complete ecosystem”

; for electric power supply, including vehicles, software and other services, said Pamela Fletcher, vice president of GM’s global EV program.

The first vehicle to roll out with the BrightDrop brand is a delivery pallet called the EP1. The pallet, which can be used to transport packages from a delivery vehicle to the customer’s front door, will have an Ultium-powered electric propulsion that provides a top speed of 3 mph. Packages can be secured inside the EP1 pallet, which is delivered with adjustable shelves and lockable doors in cabinet style. In addition, EP1 can transport up to 23 cubic feet of goods and will have a payload capacity of 200 pounds.

Fletcher says that EP1 is intended to solve the problem of parcel delivery today, where “parcels are often strewn on the city sidewalks”, random and unsecured. “We saw this as a solution to create a completely different delivery environment,” Fletcher continued, “really to help pack touch points, reduce errors, reduce physical strain for those who deliver the goods, help optimize curbs and help with to reduce the overall operating costs of companies. ”

GM partnered with FedEx Express on a pilot last year to test EP1. Using the electric pallet enabled FedEx workers to handle 25 percent more packages a day, Fletcher said.

EP1 will go into production in “early 2021,” Fletcher said. Then follows the EV600, a 250-mile range with 600 cubic feet of cargo space and a total weight of 10,000 pounds. It has a maximum charging speed of up to 170 miles per hour when connected to a 120 kW DC fast charger. This vehicle will be put into production at the end of 2021, with the first vehicles to be delivered before the end of the year.

BrightDrop EV600 includes a safety system with motion sensors that help protect the load area. Other features include sliding pocket doors, wide walkways in the cabin and a large, automatically open rear door. Commercial vehicles come with a range of advanced driver assistance features, including blind detection, lane departure warning and front and rear parking assist. A rather large 13.4-inch digital infotainment screen is definitely the center of the interior.

FedEx has expressed interest in buying an unspecified number of EV600 vans, said Fletcher, who also referred to several other unnamed interested customers. “We have signed letters of intent from a number of other customers and we will talk to you about them in the not too distant future,” she said. Fletcher declined to disclose the suggested retail price for the EP1 and EV600.

BrightDrop also offers a range of software to customers purchasing its new commercial vehicles. This allows customers to track the location of each EP1 pallet, remotely lock and unlock each pallet, and monitor battery status. The EV600 also features battery status and location monitoring features as well as coach safety coaching and incident detection, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictable maintenance insights and over-the-air updates.

Rumors of a GM-made electric van, nicknamed “BV1”, only surfaced last year after the company unveiled its Ultium EV platform along with plans to roll out two dozen new electric cars over the next few years.

GM has found success with its Chevrolet Express and to a lesser extent GMC Savana vans. But it is far from the only company working on an electric van. Mercedes-Benz manufactures an electric version of its popular Sprinter van, while Ford recently unveiled the E6 Transit with a range of 126 miles and a price tag of $ 45,000. Amazon is working on an all-electric delivery vehicle with EV startup Rivian. Two other startups recently unveiled electric vans: Bollinger with its Deliver-E and Canoo with its scalable vehicle, both due in 2022.

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