Ryan Bolton and Brody White via BrightDrop
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a BrightDrop Zevo 600 built at the CAMI plant, Canada’s first full-scale EV manufacturing plant, in Ingersoll, Ontario.

Electric van maker BrightDrop shows off Canada expansion

Dec. 7, 2022
GM offshoot, maker of fully electric delivery vans, also kicks off production at CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, and adds DHL Express to a customer portfolio that includes Walmart, FedEx, Verizon, Hertz, Kroger, and Merchants Fleet.

Electric van maker and General Motors subsidiary BrightDrop celebrated two milestones this week with the production start of its Zevo 600 delivery van at a retooled assembly plant in Intersoll, Ontario, and the addition of parcel delivery giant DHL Express Canada to its roster of customers for its EVs.

DHL Express Canada will add BrightDrop Zevo electric delivery vans to its fleet and pilot BrightDrop Trace eCarts and software to support that company’s sustainability goals. Canada becomes the U.S. EV maker’s first international market, according to a Dec. 5 GM-distributed press release. The Trace eCarts were developed and tested in large part by the GM Canadian Technical Centre in Oshawa.

See also: BrightDrop acquires AI software of tech startup Marain

With Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as a special guest on Dec. 5 of GM and BrightDrop, production of the Zevo 600 began at Canada’s first full-scale EV manufacturing plant in Ingersoll. The first Zevo 600s were delivered to FedEx last year, and BrightDrop has since added Walmart, Verizon, Hertz, Kroger, and Merchants Fleet as customers for its EVs. These companies and others have added more than 25,000 production reservations and expressions of interest for BrightDrop electric vans, according to a Dec. 5 release from the EV maker.

GM completely retooled the CAMI plant in Ontario starting May 1, installing entirely new production equipment covering 2 million square feet in only seven months for use as the new BrightDrop plant.

“This milestone represents GM at our best—fast, flexible, and first in the industry,” said Mark Reuss, GM’s president. “The BrightDrop Zevo is a prime example of GM's flexible Ultium EV architecture, which is allowing us to quickly launch a full range of electric vehicles for our customers. And, as of today, I am proud to call the CAMI EV Assembly team the first full-scale all-electric manufacturing team in Canada.”

Marissa West, president and managing director of GM Canada, added: "I am especially proud of the BrightDrop and CAMI teams working together to take the Zevo 600 from concept to commercialization in less than two years, making this the fastest launch in GM’s history. Electric-vehicle manufacturing in Canada is no longer something that’s happening in the future. It's here and it's now. That’s good for Canada and good for the planet."

Trudeau said: “When we invested in GM’s project to build Canada’s first full-scale electric vehicle manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, we knew it would deliver results. Today, as the first BrightDrop van rolls off the line, that’s exactly what we’re seeing. This plant has secured good jobs for workers, it’s positioning Canada as a leader on EVs, and it will help cut pollution. Good jobs, clean air, and a strong economy—together, that’s the future we can build.”

See also: Ford Pro to help equip DHL fleet with more than 2,000 e-vans

“This is a very exciting moment—a revolution in the way we transport people and goods,” said Travis Katz, BrightDrop’s president and CEO. “Today marks a huge day for BrightDrop, as we expand our footprint and begin producing the Zevo electric vans at scale, and a huge milestone for Canada on the road to a brighter future. Opening the CAMI plant is a major step in providing EVs at scale and delivering real results to the world’s biggest brands, like DHL Express, who will be our first Canadian customer.”

BrightDrop launched in 2021 with a nearly $800 million investment from parent company GM to convert the CAMI plant to BrightDrop’s high-volume EV production facility. Entering the Canadian market is BrightDrop’s latest effort to address the $250 billion last-mile delivery industry. DHL Express Canada plans to add its first BrightDrop Zevo electric delivery vans to its fleet early next year.

“As the world’s most international logistics company, we understand the important role we can play in pioneering climate-friendly operations, which is why we're so pleased to be BrightDrop’s customer in Canada as they invest in local Canadian communities, create unique employment opportunities and promote the growth of sustainable transportation,” said Andrew Williams, CEO of DHL Express Canada. “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 help bring us closer to our sustainability goals while also supporting our customers with their own climate goals.”

To help meet strong customer demand, CAMI expects to produce 50,000 Zevo vans annually by 2025. Scaled production is expected to begin with Zevo 600 models in January and Zevo 400 models in late 2023, according to the electric-van maker. With an estimated max payload of 2,200 lbs. and available gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 9,990 lbs., the Zevo 600 delivery van has maximum range on a full charge of 250 miles and 600 cubic ft. of cargo space and features regenerative braking to recover energy for operation of the EV.

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