White EV cargo van is shown from the front quarter angle.

Work Truck visited Warren, Michigan, and tested General Motors's BrightDrop Zevo 600.

Photo: Wayne Parham

The 2024 BrightDrop Zevo, General Motors’ battery-electric delivery van with a combined max range of 272 miles, features up to 3,580 cubic feet of cargo volume and offers fleets a zero-emissions option for last-mile delivery and service providers.

BrightDrop originated in General Motors’ Innovation Lab and spent three years as a wholly owned subsidiary. In 2023, BrightDrop was integrated into GM and now the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and Zevo 400 are part of the commercial fleet offerings available through GM Envolve.

On a recent trip to Detroit, I visited the GM campus in Warren, Michigan, and learned about the latest BrightDrop Zevo. After a detailed tour of a BrightDrop Zevo 600, the larger of two models, I jumped behind the wheel for a quick spin around the campus.

Before getting behind the wheel, I learned more about the BrightDrop Zevo from Nathan Martinez, assistant product manager. He first led me to the back of the van to tell me about the integrated step bumper, which has sensors to help with the 360-degree sensing system and the 360-degree surround camera system. Plus, above the rear door is an overhead camera.

The rear door is secured by a touchpad. All the doors are on the same system, but the driver can use a fob to unlock doors.

Rear access combines a step bumper with integrated grab bars to provide three points of contact at all times while entering or exiting the vehicle.

“It's ergonomic, it's safe for the drivers and technicians. We also have an overhead task light, which allows you to see where you're stepping, getting in and out when you're carrying a box,” explained Martinez.

Continuing around to the left rear of the van, Martinez pointed out the swing-out hatch that opened to reveal a charging connection for CCS1 AC charging. Slightly beneath that charging port is the connection for DC charging. With charging options, GM has made it easy for the driver to know what is going on.

“There is a light that illuminates to let you know what is happening during your charge session and a key to notify you of what that light means,” said Martinez. “So, whether it's making a connection through the data when it's talking with the charger, or if it's charging, or if there's an error for some reason or another, it will notify you of what's happening. You also hear an audible beep when the session is started and terminated.”

Man in blue suit climbs into the driver-side entry of a white and blue cargo van.

Nathan Martinez, assistant product manager for the BrightDrop Zevo, demonstrates the low-step entrance the delivery van offers.

Photo: Wayne Parham

BrightDrop Zevo Designed with Advanced Safety Features

Advancing to the front of the BrightDrop Zevo 600, my guide pointed out the mirrors are heated, plus the van has blind spot cameras and detection for left, right, forward, and rear views.

Next, Martinez opened a small hood below the windshield and pointed out the service points for windshield wiper fluid, coolant system fluid, and brake fluid.

“Those are really the only fluids that you would ever need to maintain, and those rarely go down,” Martinez said. 

Equipped with ample technology, the BrightDrop Zevo has IntelliBeam headlights and rain sensors that activate and adjust the windshield wipers based on conditions. The front had more cameras and sensors that are integrated into the safety systems.

“At all times you're having 360-degree coverage from a sensor and camera point of view,” he added.

Plus, the BrightDrop Zevo easily integrates with OnStar telematics through GM Envolve.

I hopped up into the driver’s seat, settled in, and listened as Martinez walked me through more details as he described the BrightDrop Zevo as “purpose-built.”

“We took a lot of customer feedback over the last couple of years. They really like physical buttons, so we've maintained the physical buttons, but we've also integrated controls into the infotainment screen. So, you have climate control both through the infotainment and the buttons below,” explained Martinez.

“You can also schedule your charging. So, you can schedule to what percent you want to charge your vehicle, and then you can also schedule a home charging as well. So, when you get home, plug it in and you can set it to start during off-peak hours, so you're saving money on electricity.”

A key safety feature of the BrightDrop Zevo is the camera system that provides 360-degree capability and even an overhead view.

“I think this is really, really an amazing feature on this vehicle. It just adds an extra layer of confidence when you're driving because it is a large vehicle, but these safety features make it feel like you're in control and in command,” Martinez said.

The infotainment screen shows side and overhead views of the van.

The camera system provides 360-degree views, including an overhead view.

Photo: Wayne Parham

Safety features of the BrightDrop Zevo 600 and Zevo 400 include:

  • Front and rear park assist
  • Automatic emergency braking
  • Forward collision alert
  • Following distance indicator
  • Front pedestrian braking
  • Lane keep assist with lane departure warning
  • IntelliBeam automatic high beams
  • HD rear vision camera
  • Rear cross-traffic braking
  • Blind zone steering assist
  • Reverse automatic braking
  • HD surround vision
  • Rear pedestrian alert

Payload Capabilities for the BrightDrop Zevo 600 & 400

Next, he provided a tour through the cargo area that was easily accessible from the front of the van through a wide door opening. The van sides are made from a composite, high-durability material that he said will not dent. The material lets soft diffused light pass through from overhead, but the cargo area also features LED lighting.

View of the interior cargo space of a white delivery van, looking toward the rear of the vehicle with the door open.

The BrightDrop Zevo 600 features 614.7 cubic feet of cargo volume.

Photo: Wayne Parham

The BrightDrop Zevo is available in two lengths with the Zevo 600 coming in at 290 inches overall with a wheelbase of 183.5 inches. The shorter version, the Zevo 400, has an overall length of 238.6 inches with a wheelbase of 153.1 inches.

The larger version offers 614.7 cubic feet of cargo volume and a maximum available payload of 3,180 pounds. The shorter one, the Bright Drop Zevo 400, provides 412.2 cubic feet of payload area with a maximum payload of 3,580.

GM even considered how delivery drivers handle packages when designing the driver spaces. Just inside the passenger-side door is a large, deep bin where the driver can stage packages for a delivery stop.

Both the Zevo 600 and the Zevo 400 feature a maximum charging rate of 160 miles/hour and a maximum combined range of 303 miles. The standard combined range for the Zevo 400 is 178 miles while the Zevo 600 stretches to 182 miles. Both feature all-wheel drive powered by GM’s Ultium electric vehicle battery platform.

Driving the GM BrightDrop Zevo 600

I admit, I probably tried to drive the Zevo 600 like a much larger truck and took far wider turns than needed. But, I never wanted the rear wheels of someone else’s new truck to jump the curb and get dinged up, so I played it safe.

With a length of more than 24 feet, it turned tight corners easily and even a new delivery driver could handle it and stay out of trouble. It both felt lighter than I expected but heavier too. By that, I mean it handled like a light vehicle but as a battery-electric much of the weight is so low in the vehicle that you feel planted to the pavement.

My test spin was just a couple of laps around the GM campus, so I never tested it at highway speeds. But, as a last-mile delivery vehicle, much of its time will be spent on smaller, slower roads.

The seating position is great, as is the visibility. I wanted to ride with the driver’s door open, but my GM ride-along passenger thought I would be fine with the door closed. His truck, his rules, so I complied and kept the door closed.

Acceleration is smooth, steady, and easy to manage. There is ample torque, 390 lb.-ft., to get you rolling whether empty or likewise I imagine when weighted down with max payload. You also can feel the torque when driving 20 or 25 mph and step on the accelerator in the BrightDrop Zevo, which has 300 horsepower.

And then there is GM’s One-Pedal Driving — which can take some getting used to if you are not already familiar with it. If, like me, you are one to instinctively roll off the gas pedal and start slowing long before you need to make a stop, One-Pedal will feel extremely odd at first.

If you pass on One-Pedal and drive in a more conventional mode, there is still regenerative braking when you back off the accelerator. But with One-Pedal, if you come off the pedal early you will stop way short of the upcoming intersection.

With One-Pedal, you finesse the accelerator, gradually rolling back off it until you need to stop. Once that is achieved, the van will stay in place until you press the accelerator again.

The advantage of One-Pedal is more energy is put back into the batteries than when driving in the more traditional mode.

Looking through metal doors from cargo area into the driver's seat and dash.

Drivers have easy access to the cargo area through a wide doorway.

Photo: Wayne Parham

Takeaways after Driving the BrightDrop Zevo 600

The BrightDrop Zevo was first introduced in 2022 and has already seen acceptance by fleets. In 2023 Ryder ordered 200 and made them available for rent.  In Canada, the same year, FedEx began using the BrightDrop Zevo for deliveries.

In an urban market, I could see a lot of energy returned to the batteries through the regen braking while running a delivery route with the One-Pedal Driving mode. Maybe that would extend the usable range or help the batteries not be as depleted when the van returns to the depot.

And you can’t overlook the BrightDrop Zevo 600’s moment of fame when it set a Guinness World Record in 2022 during a round-trip delivery from New York City to Washington, D.C., on a single charge.

It should do well in last-mile delivery roles since it is easy to maintain, easy to drive, and has good in-and-out access for the driver. If I could feel comfortable driving it as quickly as I did, then anyone hired by a fleet should be able to adapt to it just as easily.

About the author
Wayne Parham

Wayne Parham

Senior Editor

Wayne Parham brings more than 30 years of media experience to Work Truck's editorial team and a history of covering a variety of industries and professions. Most recently he served as senior editor at Police Magazine, also has worked as publisher of two newspapers, and was part of the team at Georgia Trend magazine for nine years.

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