GM BrightDrop electric van production starts in Canada

INGERSOLL, ONTARIO — General Motors on Monday said it had started producing the BrightDrop Zevo 600 electric van in Canada and landed the first customer outside the U.S. for the commercial delivery vehicle unit.

BrightDrop has signed on the logistics company DHL Express Canada to use Zevo vans in its fleet starting early in 2023. DHL also is testing BrightDrop’s software platform and Trace electric pallet in Toronto, GM said.

“DHL made a commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and as we continue to invest in our electric ground fleet worldwide, which now includes 27,000 electric vehicles, relationships such as the one we’re launching with BrightDrop in Canada helps bring us closer to our sustainability goals while also supporting our customers with their own climate goals,” DHL Express Canada CEO Andrew Williams said in a statement.

BrightDrop last year started low-volume production of the Zevo 600 in southeast Michigan while retooling was underway at the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. Going forward, CAMI will be home to the Zevo 600 and the smaller Zevo 400, which is scheduled to enter production later in 2023.

“BrightDrop is the fastest product launch in our history, from concept to commercialization in less than two years,” GM President Mark Reuss said Monday during an event at the CAMI plant.

He shared a stage with Marissa West, president and managing director of GM Canada, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario provincial leaders and Unifor President Lana Payne.

Reuss said BrightDrop is designed to improve delivery efficiency and reduce congestion and tailpipe emissions for last-mile delivery companies.
“Every BrightDrop Zevo van built here will save our customers up to $12,000 in fuel and operating costs annually, compared to traditional diesel vans. That’s a big deal,” he said.

“We estimate over the next 10 years, the fleet of BrightDrop vans built at CAMI will prevent 22 million tons of tailpipe emissions — 10 times more than the greenhouse gas emissions from all GM operations in Canada over the same time frame,” Reuss said. “That is something to celebrate.”

The first Zevo 600s were scheduled to roll off the assembly line at the CAMI plant on Monday. Scaled production will begin in January, GM said. The Zevo 600 has 600 cubic feet of cargo space, can travel up to 250 miles on a full charge and is intended for long-range deliveries.

GM set production targets of 50,000 Zevo vans per year by 2025 at CAMI. Last month, GM said BrightDrop is on pace to generate $1 billion in revenue next year, en route to as much as $10 billion in revenue and 20 percent profit margins by decade’s end.

“Bringing BrightDrop to Canada and starting production at CAMI is a major step to providing EVs at scale, while delivering real results to the world’s biggest brands,” BrightDrop CEO Travis Katz said in a statement. “Our international expansion is proof that we can deliver exactly what our customers need where they need it. Having DHL Express Canada come onboard as a new customer shows the confidence legacy brands have in our ability to deliver.”

GM invested close to $800 million to retool CAMI, which previously built the gas-powered Chevrolet Equinox, into an all-electric manufacturing site for BrightDrop, which the automaker says will allow the brand to achieve greater production scale. The 2 million-square-foot plant opened in 1989.

BrightDrop has said it has more than 25,000 reservations and letters of intent for its vans from customers including Walmart, Hertz and Verizon. To date, it has delivered 150 Zevo vans to FedEx Express, its first U.S. customer.

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