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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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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