I’ve been predicting it for a while, and here it is: GM’s new EV delivery van, the EV600, is to be sold under a new logistics-oriented brand “BrightDrop”. And the first 500 are going to FedEx, and yet in this year. But that’s just the beginning. Vans, especially EVs, are a red-hot segment, and there are a number of new entrants to the field as well as from the existing van makers. The delivery/logistics market is expected to almost double within the next few years, as remote shopping continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
BrightDrop is not only building the van, but also a compatible electric-powered pallet to make deliveries quicker and easier on the driver.
The EV600 will of course use GM’s new Ultium battery-based technology, which will allow a 250 mile range for the EV600. That’s quite a lot, in this segment. Long range really isn’t very necessary, as most delivery vans typically have a limited daily radius. Cargo capacity: 600 cubic feet.
Here’s the EP1, an electrically-assisted pallet that easily moves goods over short distances, such as in the warehouse as well as to a customer’s door. Top speed: 3 mph. Capacity: up 23 cubic feet. Payload: up to 200 lbs.
BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the US and Canada. It will have a customer support team to assist with every aspect of operating and servicing BrightDrop products, including supporting charging and infrastructure installation, advising on upfitting services, and retrofitting a current fleet vehicle to integrate with BrightDrop products. BrightDrop support services will also assist with maintenance needs, including securing parts and scheduling repairs.
Customers will connect with BrightDrop through an independent sales and service network, leveraging a newly established BrightDrop dealer network to support vehicle sales and service.
For more info, here’s a video:
The market for EV trucks and vans is going to be one to watch. Rivian has already announced an initial order of 100,000 vans for Amazon. Mercedes and Ford have announced EV versions of their existing vans. And there’s at least a couple of others coming on soon too.
UPS has thrown their support behind Arrival, a UK based company that intends to rapidly expand to the US and other countries, with local production.
Workhorse’s C1000 van is picking up orders and will go into production later this year or next.
There’s the Canoo van, which is priced at $33,000 and as such which will undersell all the rest considerably.
And I read about a JV of a Chinese company planning to build and sell a version of their EV van in the US, but I can’t remember the name right now. And there’s probably more…
A few months back, I watched as a UPS driver started the truck’s engine 3 times in the span of 4 houses. I felt badly for the starter motor. This is the answer for this very specific problem.
Yes, delivery vans like this are an application of battery power that really makes sense, unlike some others. It’s kind of surprising that Tesla didn’t start with an electric Sprinter – lose the transmission, drive shaft, rear axle and differential and there’s a lot of underfloor space. Or that whoever owned Sprinter or other Euro delivery van at the time didn’t do it already.
Not glamorous enough for Elon, I’m guessing. No deliveries in tunnels.
UPS Arrival van: needs bigger windshield. Same designers as the Boris Bus?
BrightDrop: this was the best name the ad agency or in house marketers could come up with? Also, I have a sneaking suspicion that the electric pallet system isn’t really gonna fly. Top down design solution systems like that are probably likely to flop in the real world – too inflexible, require too much new infrastructure, too expensive etc. It may turn out that workers with spherical heads floating above their bodies turn out to be an essential component. Nice try, and if it doesn’t fly will spawn other such solutions. But they will still have the basic electric truck to sell.
The hilarious prejudices against EVs I see are pretty silly. Commercial operators are only interested in operating costs and reliability. For urban deliveries, these vans are ideal. A range of 400 km (I assume that’s what 250 cubits is) is more than adequate for an urban route. When I was driving taxi, even a busy night would be less than 200 km.
I rode along with an Amazon driver one day, as part of looking into becoming one of their delivery franchisees. We rode in one of the specially prepared Amazon MB Sprinter vans with the 4 cylinder turbodiesel. It is set up so that when put in PARK, the engine shuts off. When the driver then exits and shuts the driver door, all the doors lock automatically. Which makes some sense, no one can drive off, and no one can steal any packages.
But you can imagine that then walking around to the back door or curbside sliding door, and having to unlock it with the fob 200+ a day on an average route, would drive the driver nuts. Not to mention being terribly hard on the fob, the engine, the starter, all of it.
So the driver I was with was leaving the van in “D”, and using the parking brake to hold the van against the engine, so that the engine would not shut off and the doors would not lock when he exited. Made his job easier, but of course that’s an alarming practice for any number of reasons.
I also asked him how they keep the vans maintained…..oil changes, tires, etc. He was not aware of anything other than they are to fill the tank at the end of each shift. There is no other method of tracking mileage, maintenance, etc.
Bear in mind these are franchisees, so if a franchisee wants to maintain the vans (or not maintain them at all), I guess that’s their business (except that the Sprinters are leases, so seems like minimum maintenance would be required).
But from all those observations, it sure seems like a set delivery route is a no-brainer application for a tailor-made electric vehicle. Our all day, 200 stop trek was only about a 30 mile total route of wheels turning. With an electric van properly set up, you could have it “OFF” when you exit the driver seat, then unlock any door you touch to get packages. Then lock back when you shut the door, etc…..
So the driver I was with was leaving the van in “D”, and using the parking brake to hold the van against the engine,
Yikes! That’s scary. I doubt their insurance company knows about that.
I guess it’s not really any worse than Mom keeping her foot on the brake and leaving her car in gear while the kids get in and out and such.
There was a case recently in Vancouver where the driver was doing just this. The van ran away, jumped a sidewalk and killed a young mother.
I have many weird habits, but this one I think is acceptable. When I get out my my car, I turn it off and it’s in gear with park brake firmly applied.
I take the key an put it in my pocket. I even do this at gas stations.
I’m assuming that you’re speaking of a manual transmission equipped vehicle?
Is there a “N” (for Neutral) on that Sprinter transmission that the driver could have used instead of “D”? Or does putting it in “N” does the same thing as “D” and shuts the engine off?
BTW, you say Amazon doesn’t maintain their vehicles? Well, that explains why I saw one of their truck with tire treads worn completely down.
No, he was riding with an employee of one of the Amazon Delivery Partners.
It would have to be on some kind of delay so that the engine wouldn’t shut off passing between D and R.
That is some scary stuff and shows that the person who spec’ed the van didn’t have a clue how home delivery works efficiently in the real world. But then when they choose to use Sprinters and Transits it kind of showed.
When I maintained and repaired a fleet of home delivery vehicles the majority were proper Walk-In trucks and every single one was fitted with a Mico Dual-Lock to provide back up to the parking brake and parking pawl. No one shut their vehicles off and in fact one of the old guys told me “You NEVER shut the truck off when you are on route” Because it not starting after a stop totally screws up a guys day when you have to get towed back to the depot, transfer the product and then be out late finishing your route and making customers unhappy when it wasn’t there when expected.
The owners did get sold a bill of goods on how much money Sprinters would save them on fuel. The guys that got put in one were very unhappy as it added and hour or more to their day. While the company found out that the old 350 powered P-30 was way more cheaper to keep.
There is a reason that the vast majority of Fed-Ex and UPS vehicles are Walk-Ins
Here in CT the local Amazon fleets are all Promaster and Transit. When they first started they even used Chevy Express for a little while. I assume amazon must give the contractors some flexibility on this based on location because I have heard several people say west coast contractors are almost all sprinter.
Often overlooked is the fact that Amazon is a huge reason for the surge in van sales over the last few years. The problem they have been facing is a supply issue, no single source could meet their desired expansion rates, at least w/o cutting off other buyers. So they have been forced to use a mix of vehicles.
It does make sense to cluster them in groups from a fleet management perspective. If you have one make/model you can make it easier to have the parts on hand to return vehicles to service quicker. Beyond things like brakes and starters you only need a couple of parts trucks out back. You also get technicians that know the truck and what happens to them.
I should add that from what I’ve heard being an Amazon Delivery Partner is a brutal business. The contract is for a limited term and they regularly don’t renew contracts with existing “partners” and then run ads all day long that they are looking for new ADPs. So you invest a lot of money in your fleet, hire a number of employees and all you’ve got is a short term contract.
What about putting the van in neutral? Would it accomplish the same trick?
I rather like the Canoo. Hope it makes production with the stated price targets. A civilian version might find quite a niche since it looks alot like a retro VW Microbus.
FWIW, Ford will be introducing a Transit EV for 2022. There was a smaller Transit Connect EV in 2010-12, built in conjunction with a now-defunct outfit named Azure. Unfortunately, it was quite expensive with a limited range. It was mainly purchased by Ford dealers for local parts running and the reason you’ll occasionally see an EV charge station at a Ford dealership.
This BrightDrop Cargo van is pretty good looking for such a device, and seems mighty clever. I wasn’t aware these types of vehicles until now, and they seem extremely smart in commercial use. That said, is it just me, or do the wipers on the BrightDrop look extremely small to properly sweep all that glass area and not placed in proportion to the seating position? From the lead photo it seems you would only be able to stare down maybe 30 feet ahead judging from the steering wheel position.
Need to know details about its lithium battery and its size. The price of Lithium battery is approaching $100 kWh. Hope the van drive train was designed to move cargo rather performance as I have seen some of passenger EVs are way too powerful and wasting battery power. Another is how long its battery becomes fully charge? Actually for commercial van the NIO battery swap is better fit for van application.
The interesting thing, to me, is that every major delivery company is choosing a different vehicle. Which is fine, and actually smart. Not only does it give that shipping company a way to control the product by being the biggest customer, but having a specific vehicle for each company is a branding exercise. You see the UPS truck, and you know it is UPS, even if you have no idea who made the truck (or delivery car, as UPS insists). That USPS mail truck, distinctly USPS. And the Amazon Sprinters are uniquely Amazon. And all great advertising to the general public while on the road.
Watch how quickly the fleets go electric, as it portends the change in how the public goes to EV tech. The faster they adapt, the more likely the public will also.
All the delivery companies have their own unique livery. They have huge company logos plastered all over them.
Fleets operate on a simple model: $/tonne km.
UPS trucks have been made by many different manufacturers over the years but they all wore the UPS propietary nose. Then when they were done with then they go straight to the crusher where a UPS rep ensures that only the fluids, battery and tires are removed before it gets crushed to protect their brand.
Finally EVs are returning to their only PROPER niche, the niche where they started. City delivery. Elon caused several years of stupid distraction from the proper niche by pushing EVs as nerdy hot rods.
This makes sense, and it’s even a halfway tolerable design. Not entirely grotesque like a deepsea monster, more like a traditional stepvan. It echoes Montpelier’s vans and COE trucks in the ’30s, mainly built on Dodge chassis.
Well certainly, “EV-delivery” of, say, dairy products and pretty much all groceries, right at your front door. I remember that. From my early youth, around 50 years ago.
Ipswich September 1984 and the old order of electric vehicles were still going:
Based on several You Tube clips I’ve seen about the UK (for now) built ARRIVAL; a lot of creative, co$t effective thought has gone into the design and manufacture of this commercial EV. Plus, despite the UPS brown, it is a very pleasant design visually; always IMPORTANT to we retired Industrial Designers!!! 🙂
The Workhorse otoh………uhh. IMhO……DFO
This is great. No more stinky out of tune delivery vans. Although personally I think the UPS electric van looks better than the EV600. If the EP1 Electrically Assisted Pallet is really limited to only 3 mph its going to be bypassed or hot rodded to go faster. One thing you never see is a pokey Fed-Ex, UPS or any other delivery driver. Those guys and gals are always hustling big time. The EP1 speed would be like a pit stop running in slow motion and quickly rendered useless.
In late 1991 we spent a couple of weeks touring England and Wales. We rented a Fiesta XR2 which was a lot of fun. One morning we went out early for a run, and because of the time of year it was still dark. We were in a small city (Barnstaple?). It was very quiet with no one around and we heard a noise of glass bottles rattling. It was an electric milk delivery vehicle or “milk float” as they are called there. Except for the sound of the empties it was completely silent. It had 3 wheels and was open at the sides and full of wire crates of glass milk bottles. It seemed to go at the pace of a fast walk, but was perfectly suited to the task. Battery power certainly makes sense for urban deliveries.
200mi range doesn’t make sense for a delivery vehicle. The vast majority of routes are no where near that daily distance. When I did the fleet maintenance the guys with the farthest routes from the depot would put ~12k per year on their vehicles. That works out to about 45 miles per day on average, but most were 6-10k per year.
The powered cart is pretty lame and late to the market. Autonomus operation is where it is at for something like this and has been for a decade. https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2020/01/21/amazon-now-has-200000-robots-working-in-its-warehouses/28840/
Much of the American West is suburbs and exurbs where delivery vehicles do put on a lot of miles per day from the distribution warehouse. A friend has had a Frito Lay route for decades in the “Inland Empire” around San Bernadino California. 45 miles is covered in the first two hours or so.
I don’t know the big delivery companies have lots of depots in my area so the final mile is short for most of those routes. Yes there are rural routes that have longer routes. Though I know that UPS uses a relay system in the more remote parts of my state. A big truck meets the final mile trucks and transfers truck to truck. But the short routes are more plentiful and companies aren’t going to want to pay for a 200mi range for trucks that do 30-40 miles per day. There really should be a ~100mi base version.
I don’t mean to be a cranky old man, but…
Boy I can’t wait to get past the era of made up meaningless often fabricated words invented by focus groups or conformist corporate types…
stellantis (possibly the worst ever)
The best names were and are those that had actual meaning or made sense – named after the founder (Ferrari), or historical figure (Pontiac), or a descriptive name of what it is (American Motors Corporation), BMW M (for Motorsport) or heck, I’d even settle for a real word (Rambler).
At least the name Tesla has some meaning and makes sense, so good on them.
Otherwise, cool van…
All words are made up.
Fitting the last viable segment of the first electric vehicle era is leading us into this one.
Also, I saw a CNET presentation on the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this morning, and the speaker pointed out consumers’ threshold expectations for range, recharge time, and pricing are attainable right now. We’re in for a fascinating decade.
That Canoo MDPF van is sex-on-wheels. The design is so thoroughly considered, so precise yet enlargable. It is the one I most hope has develops a more mass-consumer friendly version.
Having no exit on the driver’s side is too delivery-focused for me, but owning a big, gas guzzling (but utterly fantastic) Nissan NV250 High Roof, makes me keen on this one. The electric naysayers can sit back in their Archie Bunker chairs and bitch about it but I, for one, for many are very ready.
One door wonders are not very popular with delivery drivers even though they use the passenger side the majority of the time.
Pretty soon the distinctive sound of the IC delivery truck, which has become so common in the last few years, will go away like the clip-clop of hooves that our great-grandparents associated with home delivery. I won’t miss it.