General Motors has contracted a German supplier called Kuka AG to build the first batch of BrightDrop EV600 utility vans at a facility in Michigan. Production will eventually move to a permanent location at the GM CAMI Assembly plant in Ontario, but the automaker will first have to ship the production equipment from the Kuka AG facility to the Canadian location.
In a statement sent to Automotive News last week, GM Canada said shipping production equipment from Kuka AG’s facility to CAMI Assembly will reduce the time needed to re-tool CAMI Assembly. The plant currently produces the Chevy Equinox crossover, although the plant has been closed since February 7th due to the semiconductor shortage.
Kuka AG, a tooling company that sells vehicle production equipment to GM, will only produce around 500 examples of the BrightDrop EV600 before handing the baton over to CAMI Assembly. The company has built a replica of the CAMI Assembly plant floor at its Michigan site, helping to work out the kinks in the production process before shipping machines to Canada.
The initial run of BrightDrop EV600 models built by Kuka AG will be delivered to FedEx, which was the first company to place an order for the new battery-electric delivery vans following its debut at CES 2021. MerchantsFleet has also signed a deal to purchase 12,600 of the vans and expects to begin taking delivery of the vehicles in early 2023.
Production of the BrightDrop EV600 will begin at the fully converted CAMI site in November of next year. The plant will at first run on one shift only and will increase to two shifts in 2023 once it begins fulfilling orders for MerchantsFleet. A third shift could be added in 2024 depending on market demand, the automaker said previously.
The BrightDrop EV600 is a fully electric delivery van powered by GM’s new Ultium Drive electric motors and Ultium lithium-ion batteries. The van offers roughly 600 cubic feet of cargo area, has a 2,200 lb estimated payload capacity and a predicted range of about 250 miles. The van is designed to work with the rest of the BrightDrop product ecosystem, as well, which includes the EP1 electrically assisted delivery pallet and various fleet support services. It’s currently not clear how much GM will charge for a single BrightDrop EV600 unit.