General Motors is bringing its electric-powered commercial vehicle, the EV600, to the CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario.  Work is already underway to transform the plant to support the electric vehicle build. 

Currently CAMI produces the Chevrolet Equinox – this production will be phased out over the next two years.  In total GM says the conversion will cost a billion dollars (Canadian).  Today, CAMI employs 2,032 hourly and salaried employees. That number is expected to go up with this new introduction. 

Called BrightDrop – this all-new business from GM. It aims to deliver electrified products to commercial customers.  The concept is to deliver goods and services from the first to last mile, says GM.  So, while the electric delivery van is what has caught the headline, BrightDrop also builds an electric e-pallet (EP1) for pick & pack warehouse use as well as providing a software platform for fleet and asset management.  This software will work hand in hand with an EV600 fleet by providing fleet operators remote access, real-time location, battery and charging management, driver safety coaching and incident recording, remote diagnostics, safety alerts and predictive maintenance insights, and over-the-air updates.

The choice of the CAMI plant probably has something to with a long history of innovation. It was first opened as a joint venture between GM and Suzuki Motor Corporation in 1987.  When that partnership ended CAMI supported Oshawa assembly for years by shipping various welded bodies there for paint and final assembly.  In 2009, CAMI was updated and became the home of the second-generation Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain – production continues today. In June of 2014, J.D. Power awarded the CAMI Assembly with a Silver Plant Award for quality performance.  Since starting production in 1987 the Ingersoll plant has produced over 4 million vehicles. 

Now comes a new chapter in the story of CAMI.   And, it’s electrifying.  

The foundation of the EV600 is GM’s Ultium platform. It features Level 2 and CD fast charging capabilities. This van body delivery vehicle combines zero-emissions driving with a range of advanced safety and convenience features common in consumer electric vehicles. 

EV600 features include:

  • Powered by the Ultium battery system, the EV600 is targeted to have an estimated range of up to 400 kilometers on a full charge.
  • Peak charge rate of up to 270 kilometers of EV range per hour via 120kW DC fast charger.
  • Over 600 cubic feet of cargo area.
  • Available at a GVWR of less than 10,000 pounds.

Standard safety features include: 

  • Front and Rear Park Assist, Automatic Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Following Distance Indicator, Front Pedestrian Braking, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, IntelliBeam automatic high beams and HD Rear Vision Camera.

Additional available safety and driver assistance features include:

  • Rear Cross Traffic Braking, Blind Zone Steering Assist, Reverse Automatic Braking, HD Surround Vision, Rear Pedestrian Alert, Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking, among others.
  • Cargo area security system with motion sensors to help keep cargo secure.
  • A 13.4-inch-diagonal, full-colour infotainment screen.
  • Front sliding pocket doors, wide cabin walkways and a large auto-open cargo bulkhead door all contribute to optimize driver efficiency.

 

An early adopter of these new electric innovations is Federal Express. During a pilot program FedEx found that the EP1 (electric e-pallet) effectively handled 25% more packages per day – and helped reduce physical strain on its operators.   FedEx is also now testing the EV600 as a delivery vehicle in one of the biggest urban centers in the US.  

“Our need for reliable, sustainable transportation has never been more important,” said Richard Smith, FedEx Express regional president of the Americas and executive vice president of global support. "BrightDrop is a perfect example of the innovations we are adopting to transform our company as time-definite express transportation continues to grow. With this new suite of products, we will help improve the safety, security and timeliness of FedEx Express deliveries, while reducing our environmental impact and protecting the well-being of our couriers."

Most recently, Merchants Fleet, America’s fastest-growing fleet management company, has announced its plans to further electrify its portfolio with BrightDrop.  Merchants Fleet has ordered 12,600 BrightDrop EV600s. Merchants Fleet expects BrightDrop EV600s to enter its clients’ fleets starting in early 2023.

The significance of this announcement goes beyond the introduction of a new product.  EV’s are on the rise – particularly in the commercial sector – which probably has the greatest short-term growth potential.  Bringing this production to Ingersoll is good for Ontario’s automotive future. 

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