BrightDrop is GM’s EV tech company.
GM is the U.S.’s leading seller of passenger vehicles, marketing its products under the Cadillac, Buick, GMC, and Chevrolet nameplates. Moreover, the company is making a name for itself in the commercial electric vehicle sector, by utilizing the BrightDrop brand to sell delivery vehicles and other products. GM’s new entity was formed in early 2021. Today, it is set to deliver tens of thousands of electric vehicles to mostly U.S.-based corporations.
BrightDrop was formed in early 2021, derived from GM’s Global Innovation team incubator. Initially known as Smart Cargo, the company combines GM’s commercial electric van aspirations with its software and data enterprises for business deliveries.
In just 20 months, GM developed and delivered its first BrightDrop products, the fastest turnaround ever in the company’s storied history. Specifically, these products include electric vans, as well as hardware, an electric pallet, and cloud-based software.
BrightDrop Electric Vans
Receiving the most attention, though, are a pair of electric vans. Dubbed the BrightDrop Zevo 400 and the BrightDrop Zevo 600, the vans are based on GM’s Ultium architecture, an all-electric platform. That same platform underpins the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq EV. It will also power all subsequent GM EVs, including the Chevrolet Silverado EV, Cadillac Celestiq, and more than two dozen other models.
The first BrightDrop EV is the Zevo 600, the larger of the two planned models. Classified as a medium-duty truck, the Zevo 600 is a delivery van with an estimated range of 250 miles. Initially, the van was built by one of GM’s suppliers, while the company readied a manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ontario to produce it. This van offers up to 600 cubic feet of cargo space and a gross vehicle weight rating of under 5 tons.
First Customers and Orders
BrightDrop’s first customer is FEDEX, the package delivery company. At first, the company ordered 500 units, taking delivery of the initial 150 units in Spring 2022. Subsequently, the company expanded its purchase order to 2,500 units.
Following the FEDEX order, Merchants Fleet placed an order for 12,600 units of the Zevo 600. Those vehicles will be built over several years, with the initial deliveries accomplished in early 2023.
In early 2022, BrightDrop announced that its third customer had signed on. Retail giant Walmart placed an order for 5,000 units, comprised of the Zevo 600 and the Zevo 400. Walmart will utilize the electric vans for its home delivery service that launched in 2019. The company plans to hire 3,000 drivers to expedite delivery.
Following its Walmart order, BrightDrop announced that the company is in negotiations with FEDEX to expand its order further. The delivery company is considering enlarging its EV fleet to more than 20,000 units. No timeframe was announced for that decision.
BrightDrop: A Bright Future
BrightDrop’s entry into the market was timed perfectly as it coincides with a wholesale shift to electrification. Notably, GM is poised to expand its capabilities thanks to its Ultium platform rapidly. Ultium is typified by a modular layout, pouch-style cells for mounting vertically or horizontally, and a common family of motors and inverters. Thus, the automaker can use Ultium across all upcoming EV model platforms, with front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive combinations available. GM, inclusive of BrightDrop, benefits from a united vehicle architecture with a common design that saves the company money.
Mihalascu, D. (2022, June 21). GM’s BrightDrop Delivers First 150 Zevo 600 Electric Vans To FedEx. InsideEVs.
Merchants Fleet is Slated to be BrightDrop’s Second Major Customer. BrightDrop.
(2022, January 1). BrightDrop Announces Walmart as New EV Customer and Expands Collaboration with FedEx at CES. GM.
See Also — Chevrolet Prepares to Welcome Three New EVs
Photos courtesy of BrightDrop.