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BrightDrop out to show what EVs can do, and make money, too

A year and a half in, General Motors’ new delivery and logistics entity, BrightDrop, has outlined plans for at least two electric delivery vans, logged more than 25,000 orders from e-commerce heavyweights including FedEx Express and Walmart, and recruited several executives from the advanced autonomous technology, software and robotics sectors.

“The demand for electric vehicles [is] only growing to replace and supplement the existing fleet that’s out there,” Rachad Youssef, BrightDrop’s chief product officer, told Automotive News. “The key to our success is to not solve the problem by simply putting more vehicles on the road, but to really come up with more efficient systems. How would you redesign delivery if you were to dream it up today, knowing the impact and knowing the consumer demand that exists?”

BrightDrop is a key piece of GM’s electrification strategy and of the automaker’s goal to double its annual revenue to about $280 billion by 2030. BrightDrop expects to generate as much as $5 billion by 2025 and $10 billion by decade’s end, GM said at an October investor day.

Along with developing the Zevo 600 and Zevo 400 electric vans, BrightDrop created an electric cart, called Trace, to simplify moving goods from the van to the customer.

BrightDrop executives consider the company a fleet management ecosystem, utilizing data and telematics from GM’s longstanding OnStar system. This month, the automaker acquired artificial intelligence software from Marain, a California startup.

The Marain software uses AI to develop a solution for a set of constraints.

“Looking at an electric vehicle, which has a finite range, looking at charging characteristics and looking at different modalities of how goods can be moved,” Youssef said, “the Marain solutions stack allows us to really model what’s the optimal configuration for our customers.”


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