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BrightDrop EP1 rolling to a neighborhood near you

This motorized pallet is designed to make delivery companies more efficient and couriers much happier.

From Hummer to the Cadillac Lyriq to a battery-powered Chevy Silverado, GM is staking its future on electric vehicles. But one of the automaker's most revolutionary EVs is nothing you'd expect.

No, it's not a rough-and-tumble SUV, an expensive luxury model or a pickup truck, instead, the BrightDrop EP1 is a propulsion-assisted delivery pallet. Basically, this curiosity is a motorized box on wheels and GM's built it to help people move packages and goods far more efficiently and with less stress on their bodies. Think of it as a modern replacement for an old-fashioned hand truck.

Whether you work in a warehouse or do door-to-door deliveries, the EP1 can make life much easier because this motorized pallet handles up to 200 pounds of cargo. It's also self-propelled, so all you have to do is guide it and the EP1 will power itself just about wherever you need to go, up steep inclines, across sidewalks and throughout storage depots.

But why?

GM and its new BrightDrop logistics-focused business unit see huge opportunity in this space. With the explosive growth in e-commerce -- especially during the pandemic since everybody's ordering from Amazon -- delivery firms have struggled to keep up. They're throwing extra trucks and drivers into the mix, but this is just creating more roadway congestion and air pollution, two things absolutely nobody wants.

The EP1 pallet and BrightDrop's equally new EV600 all-electric delivery van are designed help. Since e-commerce isn't going to slow down anytime soon, BrightDrop is poised to make a fortune as delivery and logistics companies look to lower costs, improve efficiency and reduce their environmental impact, things the EP1 can help with.

This delivery pallet is small but the EP1 can make a massive difference. In testing, FedEx found the EP1 helped employees handle 25% more packages in a day, which makes it an absolute gamechanger for logistics companies. A driver can park their delivery truck, stuff the EP1 with parcels and then service an entire city block or high-rise building without having to make extra trips back to the vehicle or drive to a new location each time. This is where the gains are. 

The EP1's controls are dead simple to use.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Features and functionality

As for speeds and feeds, the EP1 has a 600-Watt-hour -- not kilowatt-hour -- lithium-ion battery that recharges in about 7.5 hours from a standard household outlet. Giddy-up is provided by a 250-Watt brushless motor that can propel this cabinet on wheels to a top speed of 3 mph, roughly a brisk walk. 

The EP1 has several controls, though all of them are as straightforward and intuitive as a ballpoint pen. There's a main power button and an emergency kill switch. The EP1 also has an LED battery indicator and a similar display for speed. Like cruise control, you set how fast the vehicle moves by pressing a small up or down arrow. Underway, speed is adjusted by a small thumb toggle that allows you to fine-tune how fast the EP1 moves. When you lift off this 'throttle', the motorized pallet rolls to a stop on its own, though there's also a small bicycle-style handbrake if needed, likely in situations where the EP1 is loaded and facing down a steep incline. To alert others to its presence, this machine also features a small horn that makes a cute, high-pitched beeping sound.

The BrightDrop EP1 is super versatile and could revolutionize package delivery.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

The EP1 is easy to maneuver, though in testing on uneven asphalt it proved to be a little jittery, its rigid, suspension-less chassis never yielding to surface irregularities. This stiffness made it somewhat difficult to control the machine's speed, though on smoother surfaces, such as in a warehouse, it would likely be far easier. Keeping honest people honest, the EP1 has locking doors and inside, you'll find adjustable shelves for enhanced versatility.

Of course, like practically every modern vehicle, this motorized delivery pallet offers plenty of connected services. It supports real-time location tracking, over-the-air updates and if one gets stolen, you can remotely immobilize it to help with recovery.

Available today

At first glance, the BrightDrop EP1 seems a bit, well, silly, but as proven by FedEx, it should be a real gamechanger. Unfortunately, pricing has not been made public, but the EP1 is available right now, just don't look for it at your local Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet or GMC dealership. If you want to purchase an EP1, or a fleet of them, visit the BrightDrop website for details.