By Ben Foldy and Mike Colias 

General Motors Co. is launching a new electric-truck business geared toward delivery services, the latest in the company's efforts to commercialize new battery technology it is developing in-house.

The Detroit auto maker said Tuesday it would begin making electric delivery trucks and pallets as part of a new division, called BrightDrop, that seeks to capitalize on the now-booming market for e-commerce and home delivery.

GM's BrightDrop plans to roll out a new electric truck designed specifically for commercial purposes later this year, called the EV600, that will offer a 250-mile range on a single charge. The move pits GM against rival Ford Motor Co., which recently introduced its own electric Transit delivery van, as well as electric-vehicle startups such as Rivian, which is making plug-in vans for Amazon.com Inc.

FedEx Corp. is expected to be GM's first customer for the EV600 with the package-delivery firm agreeing to purchase 500 new electric trucks for delivery later this year, GM said.

BrightDrop also plans to debut a new electric pallet -- a small four-wheeled dolly used to ferry packages around warehouses and from trucks to front doors -- in the next few months.

GM chief Mary Barra has pinned her growth strategy on electric cars, earmarking $27 billion to develop plug-in and driverless vehicles by mid-decade. She also wants to add services around electric-vehicle technology, such as BrightDrop and a driverless-car business through its subsidiary, Cruise.

During a video appearance at CES Tuesday, Ms. Barra said the service aims to help commercial-delivery companies work more efficiently and sustainably, as they face pressure from governments for cleaner vehicle fleets while e-commerce demand surges.

The BrightDrop-branded trucks will be powered by GM's new Ultium battery line. The company is building a $2.3 billion battery factory in Ohio with LG Chem Ltd. to produce battery cells that GM executives say will gradually bring down the cost of electric vehicles.

GM executives say the market for package delivery is only expected to continue growing in the coming years, citing a forecast by the World Economic Forum that projected demand for delivery vehicles in large cities could increase 36% by 2030.

Write to Ben Foldy at Ben.Foldy@wsj.com and Mike Colias at Mike.Colias@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 12, 2021 11:27 ET (16:27 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.