Steve Hornyak, BrightDrop: The opportunity to electrify is here and now
As demand for e-commerce soars around the world, besides consumers ordering more online, they are expecting deliveries to arrive faster than ever before. This is not only leading to a multitude of challenges for delivery companies to keep up with demand, but to a dramatic increase in greenhouse gas emissions and congestion on our streets.
Developed by the Global Innovation team of General Motors (GM) to address these challenges is BrightDrop, the electric vehicle (EV) delivery arm of the automotive giant which was launched in early 2021.
“FedEx Express, Walmart, Verizon and Merchants Fleet (Fortune 500 companies) are all slated to purchase our electric vehicles, totaling more than 25,000 EV production reservations. I think this signals the significant interest we are receiving and the momentum we have sustained in just our first year,” says Chief revenue officer Steve Hornyak (pictured).
In this brief interview with Mr. Hornyak, let’s get a better idea of what is going on at Brightdrop and the EV mobility world.
First of all, could you let us know what vehicles and services BrightDrop offers?
Hornyak: More than just electrifying delivery vehicles, we are reimagining the entire last-mile ecosystem with a holistic set of solutions focused on helping fleets lower costs, maximize productivity, and improve safety. All while reducing harmful tailpipe emissions and street congestion.
Our portfolio includes the EV600 and EV410 which are long-range, all-electric light commercial vehicles designed with city-deliveries in mind. We also have the EP1 which is an all-electric cart. Offering a new take on the age-old dolly and designed to transport goods over short distances (e.g. from delivery van to the front door), it is available now for field testing and operational deployment.
EV600 (copyright: BrightDrop)
With a focus to improve the efficiency of operations with real-time data, insights, and controls, we also offer our cloud-based software platform.
And what is the turn-around time customers can expect in 2022?
Hornyak: Initial production of our eLCVs is already underway at a U.S. supplier partner, and full production at GM’s CAMI facility is expected to begin late 2022. In December 2021, we delivered our first EV600s to FedEx Express and will continue delivering vehicles on a rolling basis as we scale production in 2022.
The EV600 was produced in record time of just 20 months from concept to commercialization, making it the fastest vehicle ever produced in GM’s history. With delivery companies announcing pledges to go all electric, we see strong growth opportunities in the commercial fleet business in 2022 and beyond.
What challenges are seen in fleet and logistics today and what can be done about it?
Hornyak: Delivery companies are struggling to keep pace, facing labor shortages and unprofitable routes, and not to mention challenges hitting the ever-increasing bar of consumer expectations. BrightDrop solutions are designed to meet these challenges head on, with a solutions approach that will scale with the needs of the companies we serve, while lowering fleet costs, maximizing productivity, and ensuring safety.
What differentiates your offer from your competitors?
Hornyak: Well, there are a few things that set us apart from others in the space. First, we are more than just an EV company. We are a one-stop shop ecosystem of tools that completely reimagine the last-mile delivery space to help make deliveries and businesses more sustainable.
For example, we reimagined the age-old dolly and turned it into an all-electric cart (EP1) that has helped drivers deliver 25% more packages per day when piloted in the field facing less physical strain and less time delivering packages one-by-one.
EP1 (copyright: BrightDrop)
We offer a cloud-based system that provides real-time insights and controls. We are looking at this space from every angle. This holistic set of solutions uniquely positions us unlike any other traditional OEM or startup in the space.
Second, our vehicles are purpose-built for delivery, from the ground up. We are not just retrofitting existing vehicles to become electric, but instead our vehicles are built as EVs from Day 1 and tailored to meet the needs of our customers with segment-leading safety and convenience to help drivers do their job more efficiently and with ease.
And finally, the integration with GM is invaluable. We are leveraging their many decades of manufacturing expertise, couple with our speed and agility as a startup, to ensure that the products we create get to market fast with the quality and longevity you would expect from a GM vehicle.
Our customers know that if something breaks, we have their back not only today, but 5, 10 years from now.
Brightdrop tips to managing a more efficient and sustainable fleet
• Focus your businesses strategy on solutions that go beyond the electric vehicle to achieve sustainability targets: Look for smarter and more efficient ways to deliver goods and services by seeking operational visibility, control, and insights for vehicle fleets or EP1 mobile assets
• Pay attention to less obvious expenses. If you look at the cost of delivering a package today, only 15% of that cost is related to the vehicle. As such, focus on the TCO savings and benefits of electrifying delivery vehicles. The cost to fuel a plug-in electric vehicle is substantially lower than the cost of gasoline or diesel. Maintenance costs are less, and delivery drivers see a more efficient use of energy with regenerative braking which allows for less money spent per trip overall.
• Don’t wait to begin transitioning your fleet. The opportunity to electrify is here and now. Vehicles are the easy transition for a fleet to make, and the real value unlock is in everything else (software services, scalability, fueling, parts, maintenance)
Join Global Fleet from 2-4 May during Global Fleet Conference 2022 in Lisbon (Cascais) where we will be discussing EV implementation worldwide, in addition to many other topics.
Photo: Steve Hornyak, courtesy of BrightDrop