Our first impression after driving FedEx’s new electric delivery van
When it comes to new electric vehicles, the BrightDrop Zevo 600 is pretty spartan. It has the latest set of latest driver safety aids and a Google-powered infotainment system, but when you look from the driver’s seat to the door you can see bare metal skin and the innate stillness of its electric powertrain. -Clanking and banging through the rear roller door right now. But that’s fine because the Zevo 600 is a commercial van and that means being reliable, efficient and safe is more important than being the last word in refinement.
We’ve been following the development of BrightDrop for some time now. The startup broke the first cover at the Consumer Electronics Show in 2021, with an announcement made by General Motors’ Mary Barra during her keynote address at the conference. Using GM’s new platform for batteries and electric motors, BrightDrop made the new Hummer EV the fastest-growing vehicle in GM history in just 20 months.
Like the Hummer EV, you’ll find a double-stacked slab of lithium-ion cells in the wheelbase of the Zevo 600. In this case, there are 20 modules (24 against the Hummer, or just 12 in the upcoming Cadillac Lyric SUV), which is enough for a range of at least 250 miles (402 km). And to prove it, the van flew from New York City to Washington, D.C. on Thursday on a single charge.
FedEx is BrightDrop’s first customer, and the EV is designed to be relatively painless in fleet operations in California. So a throttle map has been chosen to make an almost accurate replica of the 230 hp (171 kW) diesel you can find in one of FedEx’s traditional trucks. It’s not fast, but it doesn’t have to be.
Since it’s built from GM’s other new EV-like toolkit, the Zevo 600 has access to the same components and subsystems. So it has the latest set of advanced security-giving driver-assistance systems, for example. It also has electronic architecture to support the Super Cruise, so anyone can come up with a business case to make it meaningful.
While the Zevo 600 is configured as a FedEx work vehicle, it’s not completely barebones, despite having open doors. The latest Android Automotive infotainment stack is Google’s Voice Assistant on-board and waiting for help, and has USB-A and USB-C ports as well as some 120V AC sockets. And the van is more spacious – the door to the cargo area is particularly wide.
On a short drive, the Zevo 600 was easy to keep on the road despite its size. The compound side mirrors work well and the downtown DC looks positively cinematic as they were created by the Rapound Windshield. With the drive selector in the lower range setting, the throttle mapping for single-pedal driving was carried out accurately and the steering was light and effectively showed tight turning circles.
My drive was too short to get any first-hand insights into the Zevo 600’s energy usage, but the trip meter showed a respectable 1.8 miles / kWh over 348 miles (560 km), with at least 260 miles of highway speed. EVs are much better than low-speed crawls. Similar to the Ford E-Transit I drove in January, this is a very noisy driving experience, as van wheels like this have large empty boxes and no noise reduction and no interior trim that silences all the contents of the passenger vehicle.
Since this is a popular question every time we see an electric van, I asked BrightDrop about a potential private sale कल्पना imagine a modern-day GMC motorhome — but it might have to wait patiently for the first Zevo 600 to start their second life after their working days. Are done. Currently, BrightDrop has plenty of vans to build for fleet customers like FedEx and Walmart.