Amazon and Rivian rollout first electric vans in Europe
Amazon is bringing the first electric delivery vans from US manufacturer Rivian to Europe, beginning in Germany. More than 300 Rivian EVs will enter the delivery fleets in Munich, Berlin, and Düsseldorf in the coming weeks, joining “thousands of electric vehicles” from other manufacturers for Amazon.
The online retailer announced in October 2022 to invest over one billion euros into decarbonising its logistics in Europe within the next five years. This included purchasing thousands of new EVs, large trucks, and corresponding mega-watt charging infrastructure. In concrete numbers, Amazon targets swelling the transporter fleet to 10,000 zero-emission vans by 2025, up from 3,000 at the time.
The agreement with Rivian dates back to 2019, when Amazon made a deal for up to 100,000 electric delivery vans to be delivered within the decade. Today’s statement added that there are around 3,000 Rivian vans out there, delivering packages in over 500 US cities and regions. The rollout began last summer in North America and is reaching Europe for the first time.
What was known at the time is that the van uses Rivian’s skateboard platform, which underpins the manufacturer’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV. There are two variants of the van called EDV500 and EDV700, referring to 500 and 700 cubic feet of cargo volume, equivalent to 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) has yet to follow. EDV is short for Electric Delivery Vehicle.
Moreover, in today’s news, Amazon and Rivian said they “specially designed a shorter, thinner van than its US counterpart to better fit in Europe’s cities”.
200 km of range in adverse conditions
Technical details emerged at a launch event, and Rivian published some technical data for the EDV500 headed for Europe. The van has an electric motor developed in-house that resembles the drive of the R1T pickup truck. The battery, made of LFP cells, has an energy content of 100 kWh and should guarantee a range of up to 200 kilometres, even under adverse conditions, so Rivian. The CCS charging power is specified at 50 kW.
The dimensions of the EDV-500 are 6.31 x 2.45 x 2.9 metres with a wheelbase of four metres. The measurements of the 14.1 cubic metre cargo area are 2.09 metres in height and 1.93 metres in width. Amazon gives a turning circle of 14.6 metres, a ground clearance of just under 18 centimetres and a cW value of 0.33. The equipment includes several driving assistance systems, a heated driver’s seat and a driver-oriented air conditioning system.
The EDV-700 is a good 70 centimetres longer at 7.04 metres, and this gain is fully reflected in the wheelbase, which grows to 4.75 metres. Little is known about the technical construction of this variant, which is used in the USA.
Rivian vans rolling out in Germany
Still, the US rollout informed the launch in Europe. “We’ve had incredible feedback from drivers in the US, and we’re excited to start international expansion in Germany,” said Dagan Mishoulam, VP of Strategy & Go To Market, Rivian. “Today is a real milestone for us as it also marks the first Rivian vehicles in Europe, and we’re very excited about our future in the region.”
At the same time, Amazon and Rivian have yet to deliver details on the next steps. While it is clear that the EDV-500 vans coming to Germany are series vehicles and no longer test vans, Amazon does not specify how the rollout will continue after the first 300 or so units. It also remains open, which other European markets will be next.
In the meantime, Amazon has already installed charging systems at distribution centres in Germany. While detailed numbers or locations remain scarce again, a previous example of how such charging depots can look is the EV Park in Essen, where 340 charging stations help over 150 EDVs operate daily.
Still, in today’s news, Amazon only claimed it had added “thousands of charging stations at its facilities across Europe” and would continue investing in infrastructure to support a more sustainable delivery fleet.
Said fleet also includes vans of other makes. Amazon has orders with Stellantis and Mercedes-Benz Vans since August 2020 to deliver electric transporters in Europe. The retailer also bought heavier vehicles. Amazon reportedly wants to procure up to 1,500 heavy-duty electric trucks and holds orders with Volvo and Daimler. Volvo Trucks delivered 20 FH Electrics to Amazon in Germany, and Amazon is part of a real-world trial of Daimler’s 44-ton electric truck funded by the German BMDV ministry.
Rivian remains under pressure
Amazon spreading its purchasing power across the board has had implications for Rivian before. While the deal is exclusive, the startup is reportedly in talks with Amazon to lift the exclusivity clause. This comes as orders remain allegedly below expectations; according to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon placed a firm order with Rivian for only around 10,000 electric transporters in 2023, thus falling short of expectations. The WSJ cited internal sources saying this was not the first time Amazon has stayed at the low end of the agreed range for its orders.
Rivian established a dedicated production line for the Amazon EDVs in the USA but has not seen the numbers to justify the calculations. Dissolving the existing exclusivity agreement would enable the young company to sell the vehicles to other customers and documents filed with the NHTSA appear to support such a step. Rivian specified S (Service) and Z (Amazon) equipment variants, suggesting that the S model could be intended for other fleet customers once Amazon’s exclusive contract with Rivian expires or dissolves.
Where Amazon stands on removing the exclusivity clause is unclear.
Today the retailer only confirmed its commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040, and reducing delivery-related emissions was “a critical part of this goal,” said Rocco Bräuniger, Country Manager for Amazon.de. “Last year, we delivered more than 45 million packages in Germany with electric vans and e-cargo bikes, and these new additions from Rivian will help us deliver packages more sustainably and to more customers.”
Amazon has already established what it calls micro-mobility hubs, central depots deploying smaller vehicles for deliveries. These exist in more than 20 European cities, including London, Munich and Paris, and Amazon also expects to double that figure by the end of 2025.
Earlier news of Rivian looking to establish a European manufacturing base has yet to be substantiated. The company, however, opened a technology centre in the Serbian capital Belgrade last December. In the long term, 1,200 developers will push IT here.
Whether in Europe or the US, Rivian is under pressure to meet the expectations placed on the company and to continue scaling up. Last year, Rivian delivered 20,332 electric vehicles, but due to the costs of scaling up production, the loss increased to $6.75 bn. As a result, there were reports of further job cuts at the beginning of February.
Also today, however, Rivian reported an increase in output as it produced 13,992 electric vehicles at its facility in Normal, Illinois, this Q2, 4,597 more than in Q1/2023. Deliveries increased by 7,946 to 12,640 vehicles.
Additional reporting by Cora Werwitzke, Germany.