Telecom giant AT&T becomes Rivian’s pilot customer

After ending its exclusivity clause with Amazon, the American telecommunications company, AT&T is the first customer to buy Rivian electric vans. AT&T signed an agreement to purchase Rivian EVs through a pilot program starting in early 2024.

Image: Rivian (mock up, not actual photo)

The company opted for the Rivian Commercial Van and R1 vehicles. AT&T will then begin evaluating the “various ways these vehicles help improve safety, reduce costs and cut its carbon footprint,” according to the partners. The statement does not mention the number of vehicles or projected order volume to come out of the scheme.

The telecommunications company will also use the Rivian “to explore new paths” in its electrification journey, which is expected to contribute to its commitment to carbon neutrality by 2035.

While this is the first time AT&T can buy Rivian vans, it already is the exclusive provider of connectivity to all Rivian vehicles in North America. This connectivity is also the base for Rivian’s over-the-air software updates.

At the same time, Rivian’s in-house software stack underpins the fleet management system, and for AT&T, increasing fleet efficiency is part of its commitment to decarbonisation. The company claims its vehicles drive 20% fewer miles each year, reducing emissions by 51 million pounds.

Hardmon Williams, SVP at AT&T Connected Solutions, said the pilot was “another important step in our ongoing efforts toward sustainability, reducing our carbon footprint and embracing a cleaner future for our operations. With advanced connectivity and a vision for a sustainable future, Rivian is setting the standard for the evolving demands of modern transportation.”

The new deal is only possible because the exclusivity clause with Amazon was cancelled in November. “We’re excited to open sales of our electric commercial van to more businesses,” RJ Scaringe, CEO of Rivian, said at the time. He added, “Amazon is, and will remain, a key partner for us (…).”

The exclusivity clause dates back to 2019, when Amazon agreed with Rivian to purchase 100,000 electric vans by 2030. The first Rivian vans have been used for Amazon since last year, but orders have remained below expectations. Media reports suggested that Amazon’s purchase volumes were around 2023 units, with some 10,000 EVs firmly ordered.

Rivian’s current production forecast 2023 is 54,000 vehicles, up from 52,000.,


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