BrightDrop’s smaller electric van, the EV410, received a nice welcome when it was unveiled in September, with Verizon announcing it would be the first company to place an order for the vehicle.
Now you can add Merchants Fleet as the second major customer announcement. The fleet management company said Thursday morning it intends to purchase 5,400 EV410s, joining a previous order for 12,500 of the EV600, announced in February, with delivery of those beginning in early 2023. There was no delivery timeline for the EV410s announced, but BrightDrop doesn’t expect to start delivering production vehicles of the smaller EV until 2023.
“We are dedicated to meeting our fleet clients’ EV needs, from top to bottom,” said Merchants Fleet CEO Brendan P. Keegan. “Every fleet has different requirements, so we need to provide flexibility and offer best-in-class solutions, at every level. The electrification of fleets is no longer in the future — it is here, and we are proud to work with BrightDrop to reach diverse segments and drive this transformation forward.”
In a statement to Modern Shipper, a Merchants Fleet spokesperson said BrightDrop’s pedigree — it is a business unit of General Motors (NYSE: GM) — gives the fleet management company confidence in a product that is yet to hit the roads for testing.
“Merchants and Brightdrop have a strong working relationship wherein we share product and services road maps to enable the best possible solutions for our clients,” the spokesperson said. “Because Brightdrop is backed by GM, utilizes the Ultium battery pack and has some of the best resources available to support product development, we are confident in their ability to deliver a strong product for our clients’ fleet needs.”
The EV410 is designed to handle smaller, more frequent jobs, such as grocery delivery or service jobs. It features 400 cubic feet of storage and a 150-inch wheelbase. At just under 20 feet in length, the vehicle fits in a standard parking spot. It has a range of up to 250 miles and includes many of the same standard safety features as the larger EV600, including front and rear park assist, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, following distance indicator, front pedestrian braking, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, IntelliBeam automatic high beams, and HD rear-vision camera.
Driver convenience features include a low step-in height, front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and an available large auto-open cargo bulkhead door.
The EV410 has a gross vehicle weight rating of under 10,000 pounds.
“Merchants Fleet’s plan to purchase such a large order of our electric commercial vehicles shows they are serious about leading the fleet industry’s transformation to an all-electric future and confident in BrightDrop’s ability to bring that vision to life,” said Travis Katz, BrightDrop president and CEO. “The collaboration with Merchants Fleet opens the door for other companies that want to electrify their fleets by providing access to our portfolio of electric vehicles, which is a critical step toward decreasing vehicle-related emissions in the communities where we live.”
Merchants Fleet counts Staples among its major U.S. clients. Staples is making the transition to EV vehicles in its fleet and has already deployed about 1,500 such vehicles in North America. To assist fleets transition to EVs, Merchants Fleet rolled out the AdoptEV program earlier this year to help guide fleets through the fleet electrification process.
“This is a really exciting step forward as we explore opportunities to implement more EVs into our fleet and meeting the goals of our EV strategy,” said Paul Tarpey, director of fleet procurement at Staples. “By Merchants investing in EVs they are making it possible for Staples to take tangible steps toward electrification, with innovative options like the EV410 that will allow us to transition some of our smaller fleet vehicles to EV as well.”
The larger EV600 offers 600 cubic feet of storage space, also with a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 10,000 pounds. It can be charged to a range of 170 miles in an hour with a 120-kilowatt fast-charging system. EV600 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.
FedEx Express (NYSE: FDX) will take delivery of the first 500 EV600 vans. The Merchants spokesperson said the company expects its EV600s to enter its client’s fleets in early 2023. The spokesperson added that the combination of the EV410 and EV600 in the Merchants’ fleet gives its customers options.
“The EV410 allows Merchants to offer an electrification option to both our last-mile delivery clients and other service-type vehicle clients in urban logistics, who do not require the larger size of the EV600,” the spokesperson said. “The EV410’s smaller size, maneuverability and lighter gross vehicle weight makes it an ideal option for last-mile clients and other service applications who want to make a seamless and cost-effective transition to EV.”
BrightDrop is partnering with an unnamed supplier partner in Michigan for the initial low-volume production of the EV600 until conversion of its CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Canada, plant is complete. Large-scale production of the EV600 in Canada is slated to begin in November 2022. The EV410 will also be built in Ingersoll and enter production in 2023.