Amazon has begun using Rivian electric vans to deliver packages in the US. The launch will take place in more than a dozen cities, including Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St Louis.
According to the online retail giant, thousands of Rivian’s electric transporters will be deployed in more than 100 cities this year. The vehicles have been designed to specufically meet the needs of Amazon’s delivery business since 2019 when Amazon ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian. All of the electric transporter vans in the order are to be delivered by 2030.
The vehicle uses Rivian’s skateboard platform, which is also the basis for the fledgling carmaker’s R1T electric pickup and R1S electric SUV. There are two variants of the van (EDV500 and EDV700), which come in at the namesake 500 and 700 cubic feet of cargo volume – the equivalent of 14.1 and 19.8 cubic metres respectively. A third variant with a load volume of 900 cubic feet (equivalent to 25.5 cubic metres) is to follow at a later date.
The vehicles are built at the Rivian plant in Normal, Illinois, on a dedicated production line – Rivian’s own vehicles are assembled on a second line. The first Rivian delivery vans have been in test use at Amazon since last year. The company now says that these pre-production vehicles have covered over 90,000 miles (about 145,000 kilometres), delivering over 430,000 packages.
The tests have been able to test the vehicle’s performance, safety and durability in different climates and regions, Amazon says. With the feedback, Rivian was able to further develop the “state-of-the-art features” to ensure “driver satisfaction and overall functionality”.
The two companies have not yet revealed further details on the already completed test runs, the Amazon-specific features of the vans or the plans for future deployment, instead offering more general statements. “Fighting the effects of climate change requires constant innovation and action, and Amazon is partnering with companies who share our passion for inventing new ways to minimize our impact on the environment,” says Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, for example. “Rivian has been an excellent partner in that mission, and we’re excited to see our first custom electric delivery vehicles on the road.”
Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe calls it an important step “not just for Amazon and Rivian as partners, but also for transportation and the environment.” “In 2019, Rivian and Amazon committed to fast-tracking a new type of delivery vehicle that would result in a significant reduction of carbon emissions,” the Rivian boss continued. “Thanks to our teams’ dedication, hard work and collaboration, and a shared commitment to make the world a better place for our kids’ kids, that vision is now being realised.”
Rivian can apparently see itself building electric transporters beyond the Amazon deal. The company is planning a wider range of electric commercial vehicles in a variety of shapes and sizes, according to Scaringe, and expects to build millions of electric vehicles a year in several plants after 2030. He revealed that Rivian has already had a number of discussions with other customers.
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