BrightDrop expansion to Canada kicks off Zevo 600 production as it reveals first customer

GM’s all-electric, last mile delivery division BrightDrop has officially entered the international market with its expansion to Canada, where it already has a major logistics customer lined up. DHL Express Canada joins BrightDrop’s rolodex as its first customer outside of the US and has signed on to electric vans and eCarts to its fleets up North. The company’s expansion is bolstered by its start of Zevo 600 van production at GM’s CAMI production facility in Ontario.

BrightDrop was formed by GM in early 2021 to develop electric Light Commercial Vehicles (eLCVs) for last-mile deliveries, electric smart containers, and cloud-based software.

When GM CEO Mary Barra announced the new division at CES, she also revealed that FedEx had already signed on for the first 500 off the assembly line. Those initial 150 deliveries began in December 2021, and were followed by an order for 1,500 more in early 2022. Other clients to join the fold since then include Merchants Fleet, Walmart, Hertz, and Verizon, currently combining for over 25,000 van reservations, per BrightDrop.

BrightDrop’s lineup of electric vehicles consists of three products following a nomenclature rebranding this past April: The Zevo 600 and Zevo 400 delivery vans, plus the Trace electric storage cart.

Shortly after the 2021 announcement of the new division, GM announced a $1 billion CAD (~$800 million) investment to convert its CAMI manufacturing plant in Ingersoll, Ontario to build the electric delivery vans. In the short term, the last mile division developed a temporary factory at one of its US suppliers in Southeast Michigan to build the first Zevo 600 vans in low-volume for FedEx.

Today, Brightdrop has officially kicked off Zevo 600 production in Canada where the Zevo 400 will also follow, marking the company’s new home for product manufacturing.

BrightDrop Canada

BrightDrop production is Canada’s first full-scale EV plant

The young GM division shared details of its quick expansion in Canada during a grand opening ceremony in Ontario today that included GM president Mark Reuss, BrightDrop CEO and president Travis Katz, and president and managing director of GM Canada Marissa West. Federal and provincial government officials from Canada were also in attendance to hear Katz speak:

Bringing BrightDrop to Canada and starting production at CAMI is a major step to providing EVs at scale, while delivering real results to the world’s biggest brands. Our international expansion is proof that we can deliver exactly what our customers need where they need it. Having DHL Express Canada come onboard as a new customer shows the confidence legacy brands have in our ability to deliver.

With an official start of Zevo 600 van production up north, DHL Express Canada expects to begin adding initial BrightDrop EVs to its fleet in early 2023. According to BrightDrop, DHL is also already piloting its Trace eCarts and software platform in Toronto, with additional regions to follow. DHL Express Canada CEO Andrew Williams also spoke during the event, commenting about how BrightDrop will help the logistics giant reach its climate goals the next three decades:

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. 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 helps bring us closer to our sustainability goals while also supporting our customers with their own climate goals.

As previously mentioned, scaled production of the Zevo 600 is expected to begin at the CAMI facility in January and will be followed by a start of Zevo 400 production nearer the end of 2023. BrightDrop expects the revamped Canadian facility to produce 50,000 electric vans annually by 2025.

Check out this cool video BrightDrop shared of the Zevo 600 production process at CAMI below:

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Scooter Doll is a writer, designer and tech enthusiast born in Chicago and based on the West Coast. When he’s not offering the latest tech how tos or insights, he’s probably watching Chicago sports.
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