Consider this: According to research from the World Economic Forum, the demand for last-mile delivery – meaning the kind that ends at your doorstep – is fueled by unstoppable growth in e-commerce, and is expected to grow itself by 78 percent by 2030. That, in turn, will created a 36 percent increase in the number of delivery vehicles that will be needed in the world’s top 100 cities, all of them under serious ongoing pressure to reduce hydrocarbon emissions. By General Motors’ own calculations, that translates into a staggering global market for delivery systems of more than $850 billion. Everybody’s going to want a piece of any pie that well filled. To that end, GM has announced a new business called BrightDrop to meet this tsunami of demand for clean delivery solutions, and is rolling out its first two technologies.
The initial BrightDrop product is rather prosaic, the EP1, which is an electrically powered cargo pallet that can handle up to 200 pounds of goods in tight confines, such as warehouses or loading docks. The bigger news, literally and figuratively, is BrightDrop’s first light-commercial vehicle aimed at local deliveries, the EV600, being developed in partnership with FedEx. With an onboard Ultium battery array, the EV600 is projected to have a range of up to 250 miles, with a recharge rate of 170 miles per hour using a 120kW fast-charging station. The rig will have a gross weight south of 10,000 pounds and more than 600 square feet of cargo space. The sliding side doors evoke the International Harvester Metro van my uncle once used for delivering Arnold bread on Long Island. Over-the-air connectivity will allow for route upgrades and other changes on the fly. Both the pallet and the parcel van will be in operational use by the end of this year.