General Motors (GM) is changing the way your online grocery orders are delivered with the company’s electric mobility brand BrightDrop. Launched in 2021, BrightDrop released its Trace Grocery in September 2022, an electrified cart that helps delivery workers quickly and energy-efficiently fulfill orders. Last year, it was launched in limited quantities, but full availability is expected in 2024.
With GM predicting that the demand for transporting goods from warehouses to final destinations will increase by nearly 80% by the end of the decade, the Trace Grocery eCart will help reduce operational costs for companies and improve physical strain on delivery drivers. BrightDrop is committed to decarbonizing last-mile delivery to help combat climate change and create a cleaner world.
Named “The Trace,” the 23 cubic-foot eCart can hold and move up to 350 lbs. of groceries using self-propulsion while keeping refrigerated or frozen items at the appropriate temperature for up to four hours in its specially-designed cooling sections. Employees can place orders into each compartment and then park the cart curbside for the customer.
With online grocery orders rapidly expanding — the market is expected to reach $240 billion in two years — the cart is an important component in helping delivery companies do their jobs better. The Trace means less curbside packaging, opens up more on-street parking, and offers better packing tracking for consumers.
The associated BrightDrop software allows customers to track where their groceries are in real time. On the warehouse or store side, operators can see who possesses the order and monitor all onboard cart diagnostics, such as temperature.
Each e-Cart has nine compartments to separate orders as needed and the flexibility to easily maneuver through store aisles, out various doors, and across parking lots. Each cart is also weatherproof to meet different climate challenges across the country, including extremes in temperature and wind, rain, and snow.
The Trace also reduces congestion by ensuring better tracking of packages and better curbside operations. During a pilot program in Toronto, Canada, the carts increased deliveries by 25% daily. Grocery giant Kroger has completed a test run of the eCart in Versailles and Lexington, KY.
“COVID has driven a dramatic increase in online grocery shopping, and fulfilling these orders profitably has become a major challenge for retailers of all sizes,” said Travis Katz, BrightDrop president and CEO, in a statement. “With the Trace Grocery, we saw an opportunity to help companies like Kroger tackle these challenges head-on.”
“As online shopping continues to grow, BrightDrop is committed to developing innovative solutions to help our customers keep pace,” Katz continued. “The Trace Grocery is a perfect example of this.”
The grocery application is just the beginning for BrightDrop’s electric cart. The company sees a bright future — no-pun-intended — for its electric Light Commercial Vehicles division, all designed to make the transportation industry cleaner and more sustainable.“We are not just a transportation company,” said Tanya Skilton, BrightDrop’s director of procurement. “We’re not just helping with packages; we can make an impact in the delivery of many things.”