CES 2021

GM launches BrightDrop, an electric first-to-last-mile solution for deliveries

General Motors has launched a new business initiative, BrightDrop.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is expanding its business offerings to include first-to-last mile delivery solutions for delivery and logistics companies. The new business is called BrightDrop and will offer its own all-electric vehicles and software solutions beginning in early 2021.

"BrightDrop offers a smarter way to deliver goods and services," said Mary Barra GM Chairman and CEO. "We are building on our significant expertise in electrification, mobility applications, telematics and fleet management, with a new one-stop-shop solution for commercial customers to move goods in a better, more sustainable way."

GM estimates that by 2025, the combined market opportunity for parcel, food delivery and reverse logistics in the U.S. will be over $850 billion. According to the World Economic Forum, demand for urban last-mile delivery, fueled by e-commerce, is expected to grow by 78 percent by 2030, leading to a 36 percent increase in delivery vehicles in the world's top 100 cities. At the same time, this increase in demand is expected to cause delivery-related carbon emissions to rise by nearly one-third.

To take advantage of these market opportunities, BrightDrop is developing an integrated set of solutions. BrightDrop will initially serve customers in the U.S. and Canada.

BrightDrop EP1

BrightDrop EP1

Photo courtesy of General Motors

The BrightDrop EP1 will be the company's first product to market. It will be a propulsion-assisted, electric pallet developed to easily move goods over short distances. It can reduce package touch points, costs, and physical strain on delivery drivers. It has built-in electric hub motors with adjustable speed up to 3 mph, the ability to secure and carry approximately 23 total cubic feet of cargo, a 200-pound payload capacity, adjustable shelving, lockable cabinet doors, and tight space maneuverability.

An EP1 pilot program has been completed in partnership with FedEx Express. During the pilot, FedEx Express couriers were able to handle 25 percent more packages per day when using the EP1s. FedEx Express couriers shared feedback that the EP1s were easy to maneuver and reduced physical strain.

The BrightDrop EP1 will be available early this year.

BrightDrop EV600

BrightDrop EV600

Photo courtesy of General Motors

The BrightDrop EV600 will be the company's second product to market. It's an electric light commercial vehicle that will be purpose-built on GM's Ultium platform for the delivery of goods and services with up to 250 miles of range. It has a peak charge rate of up to 170 miles of EV range per hour via 120 kilowatt DC fast charging.

The vehicle also has 600 cubic feet of cargo area, a cargo area security system with motion sensors, auto-open cargo bulkhead door, wide cabin walkways, and front sliding pocket doors. It is available at a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.

GM is installing a number of safety features in the vehicle 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, automatic high beams, and a high-definition rearview camera. It comes with a 13.4-innch full-color infotainment screen.

The EV600 is set to take on the 2022 Ford E-Transit, which has a targeted range of 126 miles. GM will deliver the first EV600 models by the end of the this year. BrightDrop expects to make the EV600s available to more customers to order starting in early 2022.

Software-enabled services

BrightDrop app

Photo courtesy of General Motors

In addition to vehicles, BrightDrop offers an integrated, cloud-based software platform, which provides customers visibility and access to their BrightDrop products through both web and mobile interfaces. Built-in connectivity provides businesses with detailed data and insights that can help improve overall operations, including route efficiency, asset utilization and product upgrades. Drivers and couriers can utilize the mobile application for a variety of tasks.

Ford offers something similar with its Ford Telematics data system for Transit fleet owners.

FedEx Express is slated to be the first customer of the EV600, receiving their vehicles later this year.

Future product

​GM says that EP1 and EV600 are just the beginning. The business is committed to growing its product offerings to include a portfolio of integrated, zero-emissions products. Among the concepts currently being explored are a medium-distance solution that transports multiple EP1s, and a rapid load delivery vehicle.

BrightDrop will establish 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.

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New full-size pickup truck

Toyota announces luxurious Tundra Capstone

The Capstone is a luxurious new trim for the 2022 Tundra.

Toyota

The Toyota Tundra got a much-needed overhaul for the 2022 model year, after well over a decade on sale unchanged. The new trucks are more powerful, more efficient, and much more tech-forward than than their predecessors. One area Toyota needed to improve was the Tundra's luxury factor, which has never been as strong as high-end trucks from the Americans. The enormous Japanese automaker just announced a new model that should help it catch up. The Tundra Capstone will hit dealers' lots in spring with premium finishes and features, inside and out.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone The Capstone features exclusive styling and luxury features. Toyota

Toyota notes that the Capstone truck is just as capable as its less posh counterparts. It comes standard with the Tundra's new I-Force Max hybrid powertrain that makes 437 horsepower and 583 pound-feet of torque. Paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission, the combined powertrain is good for a max towing capacity of 10,340 pounds. The hybrid system can provide greater power and torque during towing, but better efficiency when cruising around town.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone Acoustic glass is a first for the Tundra, and gives the Capstone a quiet cabin.Toyota

The Capstone's cabin is where the real magic happens. The truck invites passengers with a standard automatic running boards, and the perforated leather upholstery comes in and exclusive black/white combination. There are real open-pore dark American walnut wood accents throughout the cabin, and a panoramic moonroof comes standard. The Capstone is the only Tundra model to get acoustic glass on the front doors for a quieter cabin.

2022 Toyota Tundra Capstone The Capstone comes with upscale, unique interior finishes, including two-tone leather upholstery.Toyota

A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and 10-inch head-up display are standard. The gauge cluster can be configured to show various functions beyond speed and engine revs. A 14-inch touchscreen is standard that runs wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Toyota's infotainment systems haven't been the most responsive or easy to use, but the automaker's new interface is intuitive, responsive, and powerful. Over-the-air updates can improve functions and add new ones over time, and cloud-based apps update traffic and other information in real time.

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What was your best car-related experience this year?

Chris Teague

This year has been a lot of things, but it hasn't been boring. Even if we focus only on the car world, there's plenty to talk about, from microchip-related new vehicle shortages to the wave of new electric vehicles hitting the market. That leaves us with a question for all of you: What was the best or most memorable car moment for you in 2021? I'll get the conversation started.

Porsche Cayenne GTS My SoCal Cayenne śaw snow for the first time in its nearly 200k-mile life last week.Chris Teague

I'd spent a good portion of 2021 wanting a new-old car to drive when I wasn't testing a new vehicle. That's harder than you'd think for someone who thinks, talks, and writes about cars all day, because there are so many interesting, risky, and downright funky options out there in every price range. The added headache for me was that I'd chosen to shop for a "fun" car in one of the most volatile car markets ever seen. Even the extremely high-mileage "untouchable" European cars I wanted to buy were commanding ridiculous prices.

After a solid few months of waffling between various rattletrap Mercedes-AMG, BMW M, and Audi S/RS cars, I landed on an option that had escaped me before: The Porsche Cayenne. First-generation Cayennes are a real bargain now, but the 955/957 (Porsche's internal code for the SUVs) can experience major problems that occur with or without regular maintenance and care. I was determined to buy one, and wasn't overly concerned about mileage, as long as I could count the number of owners on one hand. There was a beautiful 2009 Cayenne GTS with 90,000 miles but nine owners, a gorgeous 2004 Cayenne Turbo with a concerning engine tick, and many more just like them. Finally, I decided to risky-click a 196,000-mile Cayenne GTS in Southern California. It had one owner and one dealer-owner for a month or two prior to sale, its condition looked decent in photos, and I was able to negotiate a reasonable enough price that shipping it from San Diego to Maine wasn't a huge problem.

Porsche Cayenne GTS The pics look great, but hands-on tells another story.Chris Teague

I had two traveling Euro mechanics check the car out, and both confirmed that it was well-worn but mechanically sound, so I jumped. Ten days later, on a snowy, icy, dark Maine afternoon, the Cayenne arrived. Cosmetically, there were a few things the dealer and mechanics failed to mention, but overall, it looked good. The SUV passed Maine safety and emissions testing without problem, got a new set of Michelins, and I was on my way.

Porsche Cayenne GTS I'm in danger, but thankfully this should be a reasonable fix.Chris Teague

A few days of driving revealed what I was really in for. A check engine light revealed a camshaft position sensor error and the Cayenne displayed a nasty vibration at idle. A new sensor and motor mounts, and I'm on my way. I'll update you as more things break or miraculously work, but I want to hear your memories from 2021.

Email me at chris@automotivemap.com, and I will compile the best and most interesting stories for a story on New Year's Day. May you all have a wonderful 2022.

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