General Motors’ BrightDrop brand plans to open its first Canadian dealership before the end of 2022, as it accumulates pre-orders for the new Zevo 600 and 400 and prepares for commercial production of both electric delivery vans at the CAMI Assembly Plant in Ingersoll, Ont.
Steve Hornyak, chief revenue officer for BrightDrop, said the company is in “active discussions” on establishing its inaugural Canadian dealer and expects others to follow “in the next couple years.”
“I could see us end up having multiple [dealerships] up here over time between West Coast, central, East Coast and north,” Hornyak told Automotive News Canada April 20. He would not disclose which region will get the first Canadian dealership, but he said it would open by before 2023.
BrightDrop is pulling from GM’s existing network to build out its sales and service hubs, Hornyak said, but the number of North American dealerships will be limited.
“Think of it as the tens of dealers, not the hundreds of or thousands of dealers, so it’ll be very select dealers.”
BrightDrop is using a build-to-order and ship-direct business model, meaning dealerships will hold no inventory. Transactions, vehicle delivery and service, Hornyak said, will be their main functions. He would not disclose any details about the financial structure between BrightDrop and its dealers, beyond saying the arrangement would be mutually beneficial.
The new GM business, launched officially in January 2021, has disclosed orders for 30,000 Zevo 600s and Zevo 400s. While none of the orders have been placed by Canadian companies, Hornyak said there has been considerable activity in Canada.
“Stay tuned over the next several weeks to months for some announcement of known players up in Canada.”
Retooling that will clear the way for full-scale production of the BrightDrop vans at CAMI will start at the end of April. Following an eight-month retrofit, the first Zevo 600 is scheduled to roll of the line in December. Production of the smaller Zevo 400 will follow in late 2023.
The plant’s early output is already spoken for.
“We do expect model year ‘23 and ‘24 to be pre-sold this year,” Hornyak said, noting BrightDrop’s key target markets — e-commerce and last-mile delivery firms — are expected to receive the bulk of the units from the first two years of production.
Initial production capacity is expected to total 30,000 units a year, GM CEO Mary Barra said earlier this year.
BrightDrop also plans to introduce additional variants of the Zevo 600 and 400 that will slim down each van’s top-end battery pack and strip out certain higher-end features such as heated seats and steering wheels. The battery included in the launch version of the Zevo 600 offers roughly 400 kilometres of range, but further options will let fleet operators pick versions that suits their needs, Hornyak said.
“We’ll be coming out with two-wheel drive versions and lower capacity batteries, so that people can basically fit in the best battery consumption, power and drive optimization.”