On August 4, 2021, GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra revealed that the company plans to launch a Chevrolet electric van for the core brand’s commercial vehicle business. There are various indications that Barra was talking about a Chevrolet Express electric successor (codename: BV1) that will likely rival the Ford E-Transit.
Barra was addressing investors and analysts during GM’s Q2 2021 earnings conference call. Here is what she said:
We will add two new vehicles to our commercial portfolio. The first is a full-sized battery electric cargo van for Chevrolet, which will exceed the expectations of small business owners, tradespeople, and anyone else who has been well served by the Chevrolet Express.Mary Barra, Chair & CEO, General Motors (Q2 2021 earnings conference call)
On June 29, 2022, Autoweek published a report saying that the Chevrolet Express electric successor will be based on a skateboard chassis developed especially for electric vehicles. In other words, this van will be a bespoke EV. There’s no way GM will (or technically could) convert the pre-millennium Express that’s currently on sale into an EV. So, in all likeliness, the Express electric successor will be a model designed as an electric vehicle from the ground up, similar to the Brightdrop vans.
The Chevrolet Express electric successor will pack Ultium batteries, as per the Autoweek report. Ultium batteries can provide a GM-est. range of more than 350 miles on the first model that entered production in December 2021 – the GMC Hummer EV Pickup. By the time GM plans to launch the Chevrolet electric van, it could have made Ultium batteries that consist of cells co-developed with LG Energy Solution and its other EV components cheap and efficient.
GM can offer 50-200 kWh battery packs using Ultium batteries in FWD, RWD, and AWD EVs. The current triple-digit capacities should be sufficient for the company’s electric vans. The battery pack capacity of GM’s only electric van currently available (to fleets), the BrightDrop Zevo 600 (formerly BrightDrop EV600), is a sizeable one. According to a certificate of conformity from EPA dated December 7, 2021, it’s 158 kWh, while Motor Trend claimed on May 19, 2022, that it’s 165 kWh. On May 30, 2022, Autoblog reported that it’s approximately 178 kWh.
Expect 400 volts to be the operating voltage of the battery pack, as is the case with the BrightDrop Zevo 600’s battery pack. The BrightDrop model can travel up to 250 miles on a full charge and accept charging at up to 120 kW. These should be bettered by the future electric van.
The Chevrolet electric van could feature a touchscreen infotainment system with OTA updates and 5G cellular connectivity. GM is working with AT&T to deploy 5G connectivity in vehicles, beginning with select MY2024 models. E-commerce, vehicle-to-electric grid, smart city, and many other future mobility services will benefit from 5G connectivity. The company will improve the connectivity speeds of its MY2019 and newer models featuring 4G LTE also as part of the 5G rollout.
Chevrolet Express Electric Release Date
The Chevrolet Express electric successor will arrive as a 2026 model, as per a competitive analysis source of Autoweek. The report claims that the gas-powered Chevrolet Express will get discontinued in MY2025.
GM’s second zero-emission commercial vehicle
Barra revealed during GM’s Q2 2021 earnings conference call that the second new commercial vehicle will be a medium-duty truck that employs both Ultium BEV and Hydrotec hydrogen FCEV tech. Both new commercial vehicles will expand the company’s product line-up to offer an eco-friendly solution for almost any towing or hauling application one can imagine.
The next-gen Chevrolet Express electric van and the new medium-duty part-electric, part-hydrogen pickup will benefit GM’s increment in 2020-2025 capital and engineering investment from USD 27 billion to USD 35 billion. They are part of its medium-term plan to launch 30 new EVs globally by 2025 and are in line with President Joe Biden’s plan of increasing the share of EVs in America’s vehicle sales to 50% in 2030.
Featured image: TopElectricSUV’s rendering of a Chevrolet Express Electric combining the new EV design language with the body of the current van. The image is for illustrative purposes and is not intended to be an exact representation of the product.