After Amazon announced in September 2019 that it would order 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian, the e-commerce giant has now begun testing the new e-transporters on delivery routes in parts of Los Angeles. The trials are right on (record) time.
When announcing the deal in 2019, the online retailer already envisioned beginning deliveries with the zero-emission vans this year. Now Amazon says they want to deploy the Rivian vehicles in up to 15 more cities throughout 2021, but the company did not disclose further testing sites. By 2022, the fleet shall incorporate 10,000 e-vans and grow to the 100,000 e-vans on order by 2030.
Amazon and Rivian began testing vehicles four months before making customer deliveries in various climates, and geographies and so far see positive feedback. Ross Rachey, Director of Amazon’s Global Fleet and Products, points to “photos we see online to the car fans who stop our drivers for a first-hand look at the vehicle.” He also considers this “one of the fastest modern commercial electrification programs” they have seen.
The entire operation indeed appears a record. In a new video just released, Amazon points out, that it took them a mere year to move from development with Rivian expertise into road testing. And, “we are just getting started,” they pledge.
As simple road testing moves into live deliveries, Rivian engineers continue to refine the vehicles for the start of production slated for the end of this year. The current fleet of vehicles was built at Rivian’s studio in Plymouth, Michigan, and can drive up to 150 miles on a single charge.
Amazon leverages Rivian’s customizable skateboard platform to create a dedicated delivery vehicle made to their requirements. RJ Scaringe, Rivian Founder and CEO, sees the testing as a “milestone” and an “example of how Rivian and Amazon are working toward the world of 2040, and we hope it inspires other companies to fundamentally change the way that they operate.” Amazon has made The Climate Pledge, a commitment to achieving net-zero carbon across its operations by 2040.
Amazon says they also started getting the buildings ready to accommodate the new fleet of vehicles and installed “thousands of electric vehicle charging stations” at its delivery stations across North America and Europe. Last year, they claimed to have delivered more than 20 million packages to customers and will continue building on that momentum in 2021. The company is also working with Lion Electric from Canada on delivery vehicles.
Amazon is heavily invested in Rivian. They led a $700-million financing round in Rivian as early as in February 2019. This January another round followed with existing investors Amazon and Ford on board again, bringing Rivian’s evaluation to over 25 billion US dollars (around 20 billion euros).
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