Amazon reveals Rivian-built electric delivery van

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 12 Oct 2020


Amazon has revealed its first electric van, developed by EV start-up Rivian, which it claims "raises the bar for next-generation delivery" vehicles.

The internet giant last year agreed a deal with Rivian for the Californian EV firm to supply 100,000 electric delivery vans by 2030. The first machine has now been delivered to Amazon and will go into service next year, with the goal of 10,000 to be operational by 2022.

Amazon said the van is one of three different models the firm has invested in. Ross Rachey, Amazon's global fleet boss, said: "We know that it needed to far surpass any other delivery vehicle. We wanted drivers to love using it."

Rivian boss RJ Scaringe added: "We prioritised safety and functionality to create a vehicle that's optimised for package delivery."

The delivery van includes a number of driver assistance features, such as 360deg exterior cameras and sensors, and a "suite of highway and traffic assist technology".

The infotainment system is integrated with Amazon's Alexa assistance for hands-free operation. The interior features two large display screens, with a digital info screen accompanied by a larger infotainment system tilted towards the driver. The official images show that the van will have minimal switchgear inside, with the only physical controls seen on the steering wheel.

The machine is also designed for functionality. The rear luggage compartment has three levels of shelving accessed from the front cabin via a bulkhead door. The cabin has been designed to feature a large 'dance floor' to enable easier movement for the driver.

Technical details of the vans, including range and performance figures, have not been disclosed, although they are intended for 'last-mile' deliveries in urban areas.

Rachey said Amazon is also working on technology such as charging infrastructure to support the adoption of the electric vans. He added that he hopes Amazon's van will "create a sense of urgency in the industry" to look at adopting sustainable transport solutions.

Although the Rivian-built vans are likely to be used in the US initially, Amazon has bought 1800 electric delivery vehicles for its European fleet this year and has started to use electric bikes for deliveries in certain European cities. It has also reached a separate deal to add 10,000 electric machines to its fleet in India by 2025. 

Amazon previously invested £350 million (Rs 3,170 crore) in Rivian, as part of a £544 million (Rs 4,928 crore) funding round for the Californian firm.

Amazon isn't the only firm investing in developing its own electric delivery vehicles. Earlier this year, logistics giant UPS ordered 10,000 electric delivery vans from British EV start-up Arrival.

ALSO READ Amazon orders 1,800 electric Mercedes-Benz vans