GM\u2019s BrightDrop to Revolutionize the Package Delivery Business01/12/2021
GM chose the virtual CES to announce an all-new electric delivery business called BrightDrop, an “ecosystem” that will include everything from electric pallets to the big electric vans that deliver them.
“BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services,” said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO, at a CES keynote address. “We are building on our significant expertise in electrification, mobility applications, telematics, and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution for commercial customers to move goods in a better, more sustainable way.”
GM wants a piece of the coming $850 billion parcel and food delivery business.
“According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fueled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78 percent by 2030, leading to a 36 percent increase in delivery vehicles in the world’s top 100 cities,” GM said in a release. “At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.”
So GM is building electric vehicles to take part in that emerging market. First will be a self-propelled electric pallet called the EP1. It can be loaded at a warehouse, then drive itself onto a truck, drive itself off, and then follow the delivery guy around the neighborhood as all of its packages are delivered to doorsteps across America. Each pallet holds up to 23 cubic feet of packages or food trays, whatever you’re delivering. Payload is 200 pounds per pallet. Top speed is three mph. The EP1 pallets can be tethered together and can be programmed to reload themselves back onto the truck.
Then there’s the truck itself: the BrightDrop EV600. GM says it’s “…an electric light commercial vehicle purpose-built for the delivery of goods and services over long ranges.” It looks like a StepVan, but it’s all-electric. With a set of GM Ultium batteries underfloor, it offers up to a 250-mile range and a capacity of more than 600 cubic feet of cargo. GVWR, gross vehicle weight rating, is under 10,000 pounds.
The first BrightDrop EV600 deliveries are expected by the end of the year. FedEx already participated in a pilot program using both EP1 pallets and EV600 vans and found it was able to deliver 25 percent more packages per day using the system. Another pilot program is scheduled for this quarter.
“Fedex has spent the last several years implementing solutions to prepare our business for the exponential growth in e-commerce,” said Ricard Smith, executive vice president of FedEx. “In the last nine months, we’ve seen e-commerce expand to levels that weren’t anticipated for three to five years.”
A lot of that was due to increased delivieries cause by the COVID-19 pandemic, with people ordering food and commercial items delivered instead of risking going into a store or mall.
“As people have experienced the ease with which they can get an incredible range of items delivered directly to their doors, we don’t expect them to go back when the pandemic is over. We expect U.S. residential deliveries to reach 100 million packages a day by 2023, which is three years earlier than previously estimated. Right now, we are shipping hundreds of thousands of doses, and soon to be millions, of COVID-19 vaccines through our Express network.”
That means FedEx needs more trucks.
“BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we’re adopting to continue to transform our company,” Smith said. “BrightDrop products will help FedEx Express handle unprecedented demand, improve the safety, security and timeliness of deliveries, reduce our environmental impact and protect the wellbeing of our curriers. In an initial pilot we ran with the EP1, our FedEx couriers were able to effectively and safely handle 25 percent more packages per day. The feedback from our team members has been excellent. EP1s were easy to maneuver and helped to reduce physical strain. We’re so pleased, we have a second EP1 pilot planned to take place this quarter.”
In addition to the FedEx test run, further rollout of the BrightDrop business program will take place first in the U.S. and Canada. No prices for any of this were released.
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