FedEx has begun trial tests of the BrightDrop EP1 electrically-assisted delivery palette in the United States and Canada.
According to a new report from CNBC, the American logistics company will begin testing the BrightDrop EP1 on its mainstay Express routes in ten different American and Canadian cities this year. Russ Musgrove, the managing director for Global Vehicles at FedEx Express, told CNBC the electrically-assisted delivery pallets will help address a lack of parking spaces for delivery trucks and vans in major cities like New York and Toronto, enabling drivers to park further away from delivery locations even if they are hauling a fairly heavy pallet of packages.
“You’re serving skyscrapers and very dense areas. What this allows us to do is cut down on the number of vehicles required to service that route, and have the courier operate in a more efficient manner so they are not going back and forth to a truck,” Musgrove explained.
FedEx couriers equipped with EP1 pallets deliver 15 percent more packages a day than those who are using traditional manual pallets and delivery methods, the company says. Going forward, the company hopes to bring a truck load of the EP1 pallets filled with packages to a busy metropolitan area and bring couriers to the area in smaller, easier-to-park vans. The couriers could then work out of the other delivery van, using the EP1 pallets to deliver goods throughout the area. It believes this practice would be 25 percent more efficient than its current delivery methods.
FedEx was the first company to purchase the BrightDrop EV600 electric delivery van, with the company placing an order for 500 examples of the van in early 2021. The company plans to add up to 20,000 electric delivery vans to its fleet by 2040 as it looks to make its global operations carbon neutral.
One variant of the BrightDrop EV600 touted by GM, dubbed the Rapid Load Vehicle concept, would be capable of side-loading a number of EP1 delivery pallets, giving couriers easy access to the pallets from the street. This variant of the van has only been shown in digital form, however we could see it entering production if FedEx elects to continue using the EP1 pallets to speed up its deliveries.
The EP1 pallet can store half a wooden pallet’s worth of goods, boasting a capacity of 23 cubic feet, along with a payload capacity of 200 lbs and a shelf weight rating of 200 lbs. It’s powered by a 43-volt 600 Wh lithium-ion battery and a 250W brushless motor and charges using a regular 110V outlet. The operator can also adjust the speed of the EP1 palette by up to 3.1 mph to match their walking pace.