Amazon Deploys its New Electric Delivery Vans in Los Angeles

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【Summary】E-commerce giant Amazon announced that its new electric delivery vans built by EV startup Rivian are now being tested in Los Angeles. The custom-built delivery vehicles will be deployed in 15 additional cities this year, with tens of thousands more being added to the company’s fleet over the next few years.

Eric Walz    Feb 03, 2021 9:40 AM PT
Amazon Deploys its New Electric Delivery Vans in Los Angeles
Amazon's new electric vans were custom-built by EV startup Rivian.

Logistics companies around the world are aiming to electrify their fleets, including e-commerce giant Amazon. The company is a major investor in electric vehicle startup Rivian and is planning to add up to 100,000 of Rivian's custom-built electric delivery vans to its fleet. On Wednesday, Amazon announced the electric vans are now being tested in Los Angeles. 

Amazon said its Rivian-built electric delivery vehicles will be deployed in 15 additional cities this year, with tens of thousands more being added to the company's fleet over the next few years. 

Amazon unveiled its delivery vehicle design in Oct 2020.

The electric vans were built and designed quickly. Rivian said that the vans went from initial sketching, design to road testing with customer deliveries in just over a year.

As part of the testing and development process. Amazon worked closely with Rivian to conduct additional testing of the vehicle's performance, safety durability in various climates and regions, while engineers continue to refine the vehicles for the start of series production by the end of this year, the company said.

The current fleet of vehicles was built at Rivian's studio in Plymouth, Michigan, and can drive up to 150 miles on a single charge. Amazon did not share details of the van's battery or powertrain specs.

Amazon's electric delivery vehicles are being built on Rivian's customizable skateboard platform to create a first-of-its-kind all-electric delivery vehicle. The vans were custom built to meet Amazon's needs and are optimized for efficient, zero-emissions delivery.

The skateboard platform will also be used in Rivian's consumer vehicles the R1T pickup and R1S SUV which will go into production later this year at the company's Normal, Illinois assembly plant. Rivian purchased the former Mitsubishi factory in 2017 for $16 million and is converting it to produce electric vehicles.

Prior to its partnership with Rivian, Amazon said it spent 18 months evaluating electric vehicles from different automakers, but eventually decided that going with a custom-built delivery van would best meet its needs. 

The vans are also designed to enhance the driver experience and optimize safety. Among the enhanced safety features are a suite of state-of-the-art sensors, highway and traffic assist technology, extra large brake lights that surround the rear of the vehicle, as well as an extra large windshield for better visibility.

The interior design includes a digital instrument cluster and a center display screen that features Amazon's proprietary logistics management system to assist drivers making deliveries. It displays routing and package delivery technology to help drivers put more focus on driving the vehicle. 

The van also includes Amazon's Alexa voice-activated digital assistant for hands-free access to route information or weather updates. Additional features include exterior cameras that are linked to a digital display inside the cabin, giving the driver a 360-degree view outside the vehicle.

"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 Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe in October when the van unveiled. "We thought through how drivers get in and out of the van, what the work space feels like and what the workflow is for delivering packages."

Amazon said it delivered more than 20 million packages to customers in electric delivery vehicles across North America and Europe last year and will continue building on that momentum in 2021 as the company adds thousands of more electric vehicles to its delivery fleet.

In order to achieve this goal, Amazon is transforming its distribution network. This includes exploring new technologies and delivery methods in order to deliver packages to customers in a more sustainable way. 

In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge, an initiative to become a net zero carbon company by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.

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