General Motors has hired an outside supplier to build the first batch of its BrightDrop EV600 electric delivery vans.
GM told Reuters this week that it had hired German automotive supplier Kuka AG to produce the first examples of its BrightDrop EV600 vans. This strategy will allow GM to deliver the first examples to FedEx in a more timely manner, with production now expected to start in October of this year instead of November. The vehicles will be produced at Kuka AG’s facility in Livonia, Michigan.
“We are working alongside Kuka for initial low-volume production to keep up with market demand and remain on track to deliver our first EV600 order later this year,” a GM spokesperson told Reuters.
The automaker is currently in the process of re-tooling its CAMI Assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario to build the BrightDrop EV600. Production of the Chevy Equinox at CAMI will end in April of 2022, with EV600 production set to begin there that November. GM said previously that CAMI-based BrightDrop production is anticipated to ramp up to two shifts in 2023 and, market permitting, three shifts by as soon as 2024. Workers at CAMI Assembly are represented by Canadian labor union Unifor.
Kuka AG will hand build fewer than 500 examples of the BrightDrop EV600 under its contract with GM, all of which will be delivered to FedEx. The logistics company was the first publicly identified BrightDrop EV600 customer after the van made its official debut at CES 2021 earlier this year. GM has also signed on Merchants Fleet as one of the first EV600 customers, which placed an order for 12,600 vans to be delivered starting in early 2023.
The BrightDrop EV600 is a fully electric delivery van that is powered by GM’s new Ultium Drive electric motors and Ultium lithium-ion batteries. Thanks to this battery-electric powertrain, BrightDrop says the EV600 offers over $7,000 in annual operating expensive savings versus an equivalent diesel alternative. The van also has over 600 cubic feet of cargo area, 2,200 lbs of estimated payload capacity and an estimated range of 250 miles. It is specially designed to work with the rest of the BrightDrop ecosystem, as well, which includes the EP1 electrically assisted delivery pallet and various fleet support services.