Rivian and Amazon are taking the next step – actual deliveries.
The online retail giant has invested millions into EV maker Rivian in the last 18 months while also helping to develop battery-electric delivery vans for use by Amazon.
Those vans were revealed last fall, and after some Bigfoot-like sightings of the vans actually in use in California in recent months, the two companies say they plan to broaden that to 15 more cities in the next few years.
For now, the vans are going to become a larger presence on the streets in Los Angeles as Amazon uses them in the real world for the last-mile delivery they’re made for. The additional cities where the vans, which have a range of 150 miles, will be used weren’t revealed.
Vans help Amazon meet climate pledge
“We’re loving the enthusiasm from customers so far—from the photos we see online to the car fans who stop our drivers for a first-hand look at the vehicle,” said Ross Rachey, director of Amazon’s Global Fleet and Products. “From what we’ve seen, this is one of the fastest modern commercial electrification programs, and we’re incredibly proud of that.”
Amazon ordered 100,000 of the vans in 2019, which helps the company comply with its Climate Pledge project, which calls for Amazon to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Since the order was placed, the retailer has not only been actively involved in their development, but also become an active investor in the EV maker through its Climate Pledge Fund, including leading a $700 million investment round in fall 2019.
In addition to getting the vans on the road, Amazon’s been installing thousands of new charging stations in North America and Europe. The pair expect to have 10,000 vans — which rides on Rivian’s customizable skateboard platform — on the road by 2022, and that fits with founder R.J. Scaringe’s vision for the company’s products.
Rivian getting busy
“Rivian’s purpose is to deliver products that the world didn’t already have, to redefine expectations through the application of technology and innovation,” said RJ Scaringe, Rivian founder and CEO. “This milestone is one 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.”
Rivian may be the world’s second-busiest electric vehicle maker these days behind Tesla. Not only is it cranking out a fleet of electric delivery vehicles, the first round of which was built at its studio in Plymouth, Michigan, it’s also ramping up production on its R1T pickup and R1S ute at its facility in Normal, Illinois, which was once a Mitsubishi plant.
The EV maker opened up its order banks in November, selling out its Launch Edition pickup in less than a week. The first vehicle to roll off the new assembly line in Normal, Illinois, starting June 2021 and the initial build will take until the beginning of 2022.
Deliveries for the R1T, the Rivian pickup truck, start June 2021 and the SUV, the R1S, will begin August 2021. Prices on the truck begin at $75,000 and the SUV at $77,500, but prices can climb $10,000 very quickly with options.
Look out for the competition
The EV maker’s going to have to keep up the pace as the battery-electric commercial van segment is exploding. Mercedes-Benz offers an e-Sprinter, GM just revealed its new BrightDrop subsidiary, which just logged an order for 12,600 vans, and Ford is looking to retain its spot atop the commercial van heap.
Ford introduced its new electric Transit line-up recently and during the company’s earnings call Thursday evening, Ford CEO Jim Farley staked a claim to being the segment’s top dog – and he plans for it to remain that way.
“This is our turf,” he said. “And we’re not going to have just one delivery vehicle. We’re not done. We’re the leader in the Transit business.”
Although Ford is a winner either way, having invested at least $500 million in Rivian. It expects to earn $900 million on that investment in 2021, officials noted.