Amazon has lately been introducing untraditional methods of delivery. Amazon’s Prime Air method of drone-based home delivery, which had been announced more than five years ago, was finally approved by the FAA this year. In June, Amazon acquired Zoox, a self-driving car company, in what was described in the media as “a move towards self-driving cars.”
Now, Amazon has announced its first custom electric delivery vehicle, which it built in partnership with the electric car company Rivian.
The vans will begin hitting the road for Amazon in 2021. Once they do, the company plans to have 10,000 Amazon custom electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2022, and to have converted their entire fleet to electric by 2030.
“When we set out to create our first customized electric delivery vehicle with Rivian, we knew that it needed to far surpass any other delivery vehicle. We wanted drivers to love using it and customers to feel excited when they saw it driving through their neighborhood and pulling up to their home,” said Ross Rachey, Director of Amazon’s Global Fleet and Products. “We combined Rivian’s technology with our delivery logistics knowledge, and the result is what you see here—the future of last mile delivery.”
The cars will include state-of-the-art sensor detection, exterior cameras, Alexa integration, and what’s described as a “dancefloor,” which will allow for “easy movement inside the van.”
Amazon also released a video, featuring Amazon delivery drivers expressing excitement about the new vehicles.
The shift is part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge, which it made in 2019, and in which the company agreed to meet the Paris Climate Accords ten years in advance, and to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. Amazon also made a naming rights deal with a newly rebuilt area in Seattle, which will be called Climate Pledge Arena.
Rivian was founded in 2009, and is based in California. Amazon led a funding round for the company, in February of 2019, that earned a total of $700 million.
“We’re inspired by Rivian’s vision for the future of electric transportation,” Amazon CEO Worldwide Consumer Jeff Wilke said at the time of the 2019 round. “RJ has built an impressive organization, with a product portfolio and technology to match. We’re thrilled to invest in such an innovative company.”
“The vehicle we’ve developed with Amazon is not just electric. We prioritized safety and functionality to create a vehicle that’s optimized for package delivery,” said RJ Scaringe, the CEO of Rivian. “We thought through how drivers get in and out of the van, what the work space feels like and what the work flow is for delivering packages.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver. Image: Reuters