General Motors plans to add two new electric vehicles (EVs) to its commercial vehicle lineup as it continues to expand its electric platform to meet its goal of launching 30 EVs globally by 2025.
The new vehicles — an electric Chevrolet cargo van similar in size to the current Chevrolet Express van and a larger medium-duty vehicle — will leverage the company’s BrightDrop EV business and take advantage of the company’s $35 billion capital and engineering investment efforts.
“Now if you step back for a moment and think about what this means for the future of work and the greenhouse gas reduction from surface transportation, because when you say between these new trucks, BrightDrop, EV pickups coming from Chevrolet and GMC and our work with Wabtec on locomotives and Navistar on semi trucks, we will have electric solutions for almost any towing or hauling jobs you can imagine,” CEO Mary Barra said in the company’s Q2 earnings call Wednesday.
The medium-duty truck will use GM’s (NYSE: GM) Ultium battery technology and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology and be designed for service and utility vehicles, school buses, bucket trucks and more.
“Both will complement BrightDrop and keep our commercial fleet market share growing, and we’ll share more details about these products as we move forward,” Barra said.
Modern Shipper reached out to BrightDrop for more details but had not received a response by publishing time.
BrightDrop was launched early in 2021 as a separate entity. The company is focused on solving first-to-last-mile problems for commercial customers. Its first product is the EV600, an electric delivery van with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds that can be charged to a range of 170 miles in an hour with a 120-kilowatt fast-charging system. It uses GM’s Ultimum battery system. The EV600’s connectivity provides fleet operators remote access, real-time location, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching and incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.
It has 600 cubic feet of storage space. FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX) will take delivery of 500 vans later this year. BrightDrop announced on Feb. 2 that Merchants Fleet, a fleet management company, had ordered 12,500 EV600s, with delivery beginning in early 2023.
BrightDrop President and CEO Travis Katz told Modern Shipper earlier this year that the EV600 and the company’s EP1 electric pallet system are part of the ecosystem the company is trying to create.
“We have spent quite a bit of time with potential customers really understanding what challenges they are facing and what are the inefficiencies,” Katz said. “We saw the number of packages being delivered was increasing, and the more customers we talked to, the more we saw a lot of potential [opportunities].”
The EP1 is a key component of the ecosystem. It uses an electric hub motor that can power the pallet at up to 3.1 mph. Built on four wheels and looking like a rolling box, the EP1 features adjustable shelving and can carry up to 200 pounds.
“It’s really designed to move goods over short distances — think about the back of the truck to the front door,” Katz said of the EP1. “The goal is to reduce physical strain on the labor force and reduce congestion due to trucks sitting on the side of the road unloading.”
The announcement of two additional electric vehicles on Wednesday preceded by a day the announcement by President Joe Biden that he would issue an executive order that pushes the automotive industry toward a goal of ensuring 50% of all new vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2030 are zero-emission vehicles. The executive order does not include the force of law, however.
“We have got to act. This goal of getting half of our new vehicles to be electric within the decade is going to be urgently needed for us to meet the imperative of climate in our time,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CNBC.
“Today, Ford, GM and Stellantis announce their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles (battery electric, fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles) by 2030 in order to move the nation closer to a zero-emissions future consistent with Paris climate goals,” the three companies said in a joint statement. “Our recent product, technology and investment announcements highlight our collective commitment to be leaders in the U.S. transition to electric vehicles. This represents a dramatic shift from the U.S. market today that can be achieved only with the timely deployment of the full suite of electrification policies committed to by the administration in the Build Back Better Plan, including purchase incentives, a comprehensive charging network of sufficient density to support the millions of vehicles these targets represent, investments in R&D and incentives to expand the electric vehicle manufacturing and supply chains in the United States.”
In a separate statement, GM praised the announcement.
“General Motors is committed to a zero-emissions, all-electric future and has charted a path which aspires to eliminate tailpipe emissions from new light-duty vehicles by 2035,” the company said. “We are pleased to join in today’s joint statement of a shared aspiration of achieving 40-50% of annual U.S. sales volumes of electric vehicles by 2030. For GM, that means battery electric vehicles. To reach the high end of this range, we will continue to work with the Biden administration, Congress and state and local governments for implementation of supportive policies for the benefit of our workforce, our dealers, our customers and their communities.”