When Amazon led a $700 million round of investment in electric vehicle maker Rivian last year, there were no clear plans about how, or even if, the two companies would interact. However, it last fall Amazon said it would order 100,000 electric delivery vans from the company.
Rivian agreed to produce a specially designed and built electric delivery van for the online retailer. Amazon had been searching for a delivery that could almost be retrofitted to meet its needs, including some Ford Transits that had reportedly been adapted to electric powertrains.
The two companies revealed Tuesday what those Amazon battery-electric delivery vans will look like and some of their capabilities.
The new vans use Rivian’s skateboard chassis, just like the EV maker’s coming pickup truck and sport-utility will when they go into production. Amazon’s vans will come in three different sizes with different sized battery packs depending upon the type of work the van will be doing.
Additionally, some of the trucks will be front-wheel drive, while others will be all-wheel drive. The configuration will depend upon weather, location and task.
The truck has been designed with flexibility and convenience in mind. For example, the company could use boxes with magnets in them to help them remain upright and in place during transport. Also, the bumpers are designed to come off easily so they can be replaced in the event of a crash that causes some damage.
The trucks will feature a common set of technological features, including automated emergency braking, lane-keep assistance, pedestrian warnings, traffic sign recognition and driver distraction monitoring. Additionally, the digital instrument cluster will feature a central display screen.
They will be connected to Amazon’s logistics management system, which will use Alexa, of course, to help drivers get through their runs, permitting them to entering information quickly and simply rather than having a manual data entry system.
The move to the electric vans allows Amazon to meet the retailer climate pledge that is part of the Paris Climate Accord. In fact, if it meets its targets, it will beat the standards in the agreement by 10 years. The plans call for 10,000 of the vans on the road by the end of next year.
That number jumps to 100,000 by 2030, which will take millions of metric tons out of carbon out of the air by that time.