Electric Car

GM hopes to make EVs connect for fleets with holistic charging approach

General Motors revealed Thursday that it’s planning to extend its holistic EV charging approach, called Ultium Charge 360, to fleet customers of its BrightDrop electric commercial delivery vehicle unit. 

GM said that the fleet version of Ultium Charge 360 will offer fleet and facility management tools plus integration with OnStar Vehicle Insights telematics and the BrightDrop management platform. 

According to Alex Keros, GM’s lead architect for EV infrastructure, that means using some of the same software behind a set of upcoming unified, charging-focused brand apps for buyers of models like the GMC Hummer EV and applying it to apps, products, and services for fleet customers. 

Put simply, the new effort combines GM’s existing fleet and charging expertise with the infrastructure and charging-logistics services of other companies. Time is of the essence in capturing the business of both larger companies seeking to electrify large fleets and smaller firms with just a few vehicles. 

GM and BrightDrop - Ultium Charge 360

GM and BrightDrop – Ultium Charge 360

Keros noted that GM’s interface needs the flexibility to assist fleet vehicles that come home with employees—possibly municipal fleets of Bolt EVs, for instance—all the way up to its BrightDrop delivery vehicles.

Just last month, Ford acquired the technology firm Electriphi in the interest of capturing and dramatic growth in the “depot charging industry” and what it estimated as $1 billion of revenue from charging by 2030. At the core of that Ford tech is modeling around how and when to charge. 

BrightDrop EV600

BrightDrop EV600

GM earlier this week demonstrated it understands that urgency, confirming that it will use the German parts supplier Kuka to build an initial limited number of its EV600 electric vans so it can stay on schedule with deliveries to its first customers, which include Fedex. BrightDrop hasn’t yet announced its first dealers, but that’s coming late this year, and production will ramp up in higher numbers at a facility in Ontario, Canada, next fall. 

BrightDrop plans to provide a portfolio of products aimed at logistics and delivery uses, including the electric vans and a pallet system for easy loading and last-mile cargo delivery.

BrightDrop EP1

BrightDrop EP1

GM has four depot-related infrastructure providers it’s working with for the project: eTransEnergy, EVgo, In-Charge Energy, and Schneider Electric. It also plans to coordinate partnerships with Qmerit for home-charging installation and EVgo for public and depot charging because it sees these worlds mixing increasingly in the future for some types of fleets.

Keros noted to Green Car Reports that GM is essentially project managing between partners to provide a full suite of solutions. Making all of these new steps that fleet managers face easier is essential. On the software front, it will accommodate integration of reimbursals for charging, integration into expense reports, and other functionality. Meanwhile, the partnerships will help coordinate everything from individual charging installation to a potential charging-as-a-service model that might cut up-front costs.

“You have to put the puzzle pieces together,” said Keros.

GM says that the Ultium Charge 360 services are available now to existing GM fleet and BrightDrop customers, so electric fleet planning can begin. 

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