Earlier this year, Amazon invested $700 million in Michigan’s electric car startup Rivian, but now the company has built on that with an order for 100,000 vans to hit the roads by 2024, which is a lot of vans.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced that his company ordered 100,000 vans from the electric car maker, with the first deliveries starting in 2021 and possibly prototypes hitting the roads as early as next year, as tweeted out by Nathan Bomey, a reporter for USA Today, and also reported by CNBC.
The announcement came as part of Bezos’ planned remarks on Amazon’s strategy for combating climate change ahead of this week’s Climate Strike scheduled for Friday. Here’s more on Bezos’ statements concerning climate change from CNBC:
Bezos said Amazon has committed to meet the goals of the United Nations Paris Agreement 10 years early, which will involve regularly measuring and reporting the company’s emissions, implementing decarbonization strategies and altering its business strategies to eventually eliminate carbon usage altogether. He added that his goal is for 80% of Amazon’s energy use to be renewable by 2024, before transitioning to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
Update, 1:35 p.m.: A Rivian spokesperson reached out to Jalopnik to claim the order was the largest ever of its type, and that it’s anticipated to save up to four million metric tons of carbon emissions each year once every van is on the road by 2024. Since the van will be used for “last-mile” Prime deliveries, the vans won’t contribute to localized pollution in urban and suburban communities.
(Correction: A spokesperson reached out to Jalopnik after this update was published to correct the claimed carbon emissions figure from four billion metric tons to four million.)
The spokesperson also confirmed that this specific van design will be exclusive to the Amazon partnership, and will be produced on a separate assembly line from the R1T and R1S passenger vehicles in the automaker’s Illinois assembly plant. Rivian also claims the van order will not cause any delay in delivery for reservation holders of the R1T and R1S.
Here’s how the vans are similar and different from Rivian’s previous two concept vehicle designs, according to a company spokesperson:
These vehicles leverage much of the technology developed for the R1T and R1S, including battery, powertrain, thermal, controls, electrical network and connectivity platform. This commonality will drive meaningful scale benefits across all Rivian-manufactured vehicles. The vehicle body and interior design, application software and suspension have been developed specifically for Amazon’s last-mile delivery operations, ensuring these vehicles fit seamlessly into the Amazon logistics network.
The spokesperson declined to go into further detail about the “commercial details” of the agreement, like the estimated cash value of a purchase of 100,000 vans, and declined to elaborate on the decisions behind the prominent “Prime” branding where one might expect an automaker’s branding instead, like on the “grille” of the vehicle.
This is a big order for a company that hasn’t actually produced any cars yet and has only shown concept versions of an electric pickup truck and electric crossover claimed to be capable of up to 400 miles of range, with a charging capability claimed to be capable of soaking up enough electrons in an hour to return to an 80 percent state of charge.
For a company like Amazon that deals with a lot of shipment and delivery, that doesn’t sound like such a bad shake. The vans, assuming they will indeed be fully electric, would likely be based on the same “skateboard” battery and drivetrain platform as Rivian’s pickup truck and crossover.
Rivian has been a hot topic this year, with a lot of traditional automaker interest earlier ultimately resulting in Amazon and Ford investing heaps of cash into the company. The Amazon investment is a little clearer now.
Jalopnik reached out to Rivian for confirmation and will update as more information becomes available.