As one of the world’s largest retailers, Amazon and its initiatives have been responsible for driving many trends and paradigm shifts. In 2019, it co-founded and became the first signatory of The Climate Pledge, a commitment, signed by companies across all industries, to reach net-zero carbon across their operations by 2040. Seeking to deliver on that pledge, Amazon announced recently it would bring 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vehicles (EDV) into its operations, as a part of its $1.3 billion investment in electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian.
The two companies have worked extremely closely over the last few years to build the new Amazon-exclusive delivery vehicle. Amazon flew me out to Chicago for the chance to experience this new EDV at its official launch in late July. As a proponent of EV technologies, I have long believed that delivery trucks and other light-duty vehicles were the perfect target for electrification—especially considering the short distances these vehicles generally travel in a single day and how often they start and stop. Delivery vehicles are the perfect starting point for the full electrification of the global economy. Amazon says that it will be utilizing these new delivery vehicles globally in addition to its other custom EDVs in more than 100 cities by the end of this year. Amazon’s commitment to emission-free EDVs will save millions of metric tons of carbon emissions every year.
The companies have been testing deliveries with pre-production vehicles since 2021. In that time, the vehicles have delivered over 430,000 packages for a cumulative 90,000 miles. Amazon touted the iterative approach it took to develop the vehicle, incorporating driver feedback with an emphasis on safety, vehicle efficiency and comfort. For example, the companies tuned the vehicle’s sound system down inside of the vehicle so that it would spill less unwanted noise into neighborhoods. By all accounts, Rivian and Amazon have yielded an impressive delivery vehicle.
The vehicle features the maneuverability of Amazon’s delivery vans but the volume and efficiency of its larger (and older) delivery trucks. It features 12 ADAS (advanced driver assistance system) features to keep drivers and the communities it serves safe. Most notably, this includes a full 360-degree camera system, mounted predominately at the top of the vehicle, which gives drivers visibility into anything and everything around it, within inches. It has virtually no blind spots. The vehicle has an equally impressive array of parking sensors to minimize collisions and make it easier to squeeze through tight spaces.
Because these vehicles are electric, they are expected to mostly be used in the urban and suburban environments where most of Amazon’s customers reside. Amazon is stating the range of the vehicle is around approximately 150 miles, which obviously can vary depending on a multitude of factors. The larger version, the EDV 700, will have a shorter wheelbase option (not yet available) for places that require smaller vehicles.
Other features include Bluetooth connectivity for listening to music and an impressively powerful air conditioning system (a welcome feature for many delivery drivers). Additionally, the vehicle features an electronic sliding door that automatically opens and closes in the driver’s presence, providing an added layer of security to the truck and its contents when the driver steps outside the vehicle while making deliveries. Amazon has spent a lot of time with Rivian refining features like the AC intensity, automatic electronic door, wireless charging pads and more. The storage area in the back of the van is also designed specifically to fit Amazon’s delivery totes in a way that maximizes both space and maneuverability—it even saves space for packages that can’t easily fit in Amazon’s standardized totes. Speaking of Amazon’s standardization, the vehicle’s backup sound also matches that of its existing delivery vehicles, so when you hear it, you’ll know to look out for an Amazon delivery vehicle.
In addition to the vehicle’s ADAS technologies, modular design and driver-focused features, the vehicle itself is highly noticeable. The vehicle has Amazon’s signature blue color and extremely ‘cute’ looking headlights that remind me of Honda’s electric Honda-E vehicle. The rear is equally eye-catching with an enormous light bar that runs along both sides and the top of the vehicle, creating a very easily noticeable red arch. You will not be able to miss this vehicle’s blinkers.
Amazon expects to charge these vehicles overnight using standard level-2 charging, which should be more than enough time since many of these vehicles only operate during the day and sit idle at night. Amazon has worked with local utilities and governments to get the permitting to install its charging stations, which will be ready for when the delivery vehicles arrive. At the Amazon Delivery Station where the company held the event, there were enough charging spots to charge 144 vehicles at a time.
Some may find it difficult to get excited about something as pedestrian as a delivery truck. Still, Amazon’s EDV is impressive, with some compelling capabilities and features. It is exciting to see one of the biggest companies in the world embracing sustainability and working with Rivian to deliver such a potentially game-changing vehicle. Amazon is leading the way for other companies to adopt EDVs, likely putting pressure on other logistics companies to match its capabilities.
The Amazon EDV is something that I believe many people will happily welcome into their neighborhoods, knowing that it will cut back on pollution and move the world closer to a more sustainable future. While I hope to see Rivian make similar vehicles for other applications, that will probably have to wait until the company has scaled to a point where it can continue to deliver vehicles to Amazon while taking on new customers. Overall, Amazon’s new EDVs are a huge leap forward and a significant investment in the future.
Note: Moor Insights & Strategy writers and editors may have contributed to this article.