General Motors shared preliminary details about a pair of electric commercial vans scheduled to enter production in the not-too-distant future. The yet-unnamed models will join the BrightDrop EV600 announced earlier in 2021.
Company boss Mary Barra revealed the first van will be assigned to the Chevrolet brand and likely be similar to the Express, which is one of the oldest and hardest-working vehicles in the United States. It's unclear whether the EV will directly replace the Express, or if it will be sold alongside it for buyers who want a van with zero local emissions. Either way, it sounds like the cargo hauler will be powered by a battery-electric powertrain and nothing else.
The second van may offer buyers several drivetrain options. While specific details are few and far between, Barra hinted that it will "put both the Ultium and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell technology to work." It's not unreasonable to speculate this van will arrive as a bigger, heavier-duty model developed for long-distance hauling. Hydrogen has often been celebrated as a solution to an EV's shortcomings, namely limited driving range and long charging times. And yet, it has its own hurdles to clear: the charging infrastructure across America is nearly non-existent.
Putting both Ultium and Hydrotec to work can be done in several ways. Vehicle platforms are increasingly modular and multi-energy, so General Motors could easily offer separate electricity- and hydrogen-powered variants of the model. Alternatively, it could combine both power sources to create a hydrogen-electric drivetrain.
When the new vans will make their global debut and where they'll be built remains to be seen. General Motors still hasn't started building the EV600; the model was scheduled to enter series production in late 2021 but enthusiast website GM Authority learned it has been delayed until November 2022 for reasons that haven't been made public. However, some examples will begin logging test miles before 2021 draws to a close. German supplier Kuka will manufacture approximately 500 units of the EV600 (pictured) that will be distributed to FedEx for real-world testing.
"Between these new trucks, BrightDrop, EV pickups coming from Chevrolet and GMC, our work with Wabtec on locomotives, and Navistar on semi trucks, we will have electric solutions for almost any towing or hauling job you can imagine," Barra concluded.