General Motors’ electric delivery van subsidiary, BrightDrop, has delivered 150 vans to FedEx, the companies announced Tuesday. This comes after five of the vans were delivered to FedEx last December and it marks BrightDrop’s first sizable delivery of vans.
Walmart (WMT) had also previously announced a deal to purchase the vans.
Electric delivery vans have become a major arena of competition for both established and start-up automakers. That’s with the exception of Tesla (TSLA) which doesn’t have any vans in production and hasn’t announced plans for any. Tesla (TSLA) announced plans for electric semi trucks in November 2017, a very different sort of vehicle, but those have yet to reach the market.
Meanwhile, automakers like GM, Ford (F) and Stellantis, which makes Ram and Fiat vans, as well as the Amazon-backed start-up Rivian, have all started producing, or announced plans to produce, electric delivery vans.
Electric vans are a hot market because delivery companies face growing demands to reduce their carbon emissions and lower their fuel costs while, thanks to the continued growth of online commerce, the demand for local deliveries keeps growing. Electric vans are also ideally suited to delivery work where they generally drive relatively short routes, and then return each evening to the same home base where they can be plugged in to recharge all night.
FedEx announced that it is also adding additional vehicle charging stations to manage the expected influx of electric vans into its business. The delivery company has announced a commitment to be carbon neutral in its operations by 2040.
BrightDrop plans to offer two versions of its electric delivery van. The larger van, the Zevo 600, can carry up 2,200 pounds of packages and can travel as far as 250 miles on a full charge. The smaller Zevo 400, which BrightDrop says will be available next year, is designed for local deliveries in tight urban environments. it will carry less cargo and be able to drive a shorter distance.
The BrightDrop vans were developed entirely as electric vehicles. Unlike Ford’s E-Transit vans, the BrightDrop vans are not available in gasoline- or diesel-powered versions. The company also offers an electrically driven delivery cart that drivers can use to carry packages to and from the van, called the Trace, formerly titled the EP1. The company also offers delivery-management software systems.
GM announced BrightDrop as a separate business subsidiary in early 2021 to cater specifically to the needs of delivery van customers.