Amazon Places a Cost Into Startup Automaker Rivian

Amazon has ordered 100,000 all-electric supply vans from American startup Rivian, suggesting the retail big intends to personal extra of the logistics community that makes greater than 5 billion deliveries a yr. The transfer is a significant boon to Rivian, a younger, Tesla-like automaker that doesn’t plan to make its first manufacturing car till late subsequent yr.

At its Michigan headquarters, Rivian is customized designing the vans’ exterior, inside, suspension, and software program for Amazon, a spokesperson for the automaker says. Amazon will deploy the vans globally, in left- and right-hand drive setups. Rivian will construct them at its plant in Regular, Illinois; it goals to ship the primary Amazon vans by 2021, and to ship 10,000 by late 2022. In a press release, Amazon mentioned it expects to have the total fleet on the street by 2030. The automaker may even service the vans (although electrical automobiles require much less upkeep than their gas- and diesel-powered counterparts), and received’t supply the automobiles to different patrons.

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It’s not stunning to see Rivian get into the supply van enterprise. The startup was based in 2009 with a deal with hybrids, and in 2011 it turned its consideration to totally electrical automobiles. Fairly than develop a whole platform for every new mannequin—and introduce one car kind at a time, the best way Tesla went from the Roadster to the Mannequin S to the Mannequin X to the Mannequin 3—Rivian has developed one “skateboard” design, on which all its automobiles are primarily based. That features a 180-kWh battery pack, practically double Tesla’s largest providing and, in response to Rivian, good for 450 miles of vary, even in a heavy, not-so-aerodynamic car.

Amazon’s vans will use the identical battery, powertrain, and electrical community as the 2 client automobiles Rivian plans to start out constructing subsequent yr, the $69,000 R1T pickup truck and $72,500 R1S SUV. Plopping the physique of a supply van on a platform made for these massive automobiles must be simple sufficient. And even when it’s not, it’d probably be price doing to lock in such a big order from a high-profile buyer, as Rivian seeks a foothold in an business well-known for killing newcomers.

Even for Amazon, it is a large deal. The corporate not too long ago ordered 20,000 vans from Daimler and about 2,000 vans from Michigan-based Spartan. As soon as Rivian provides its 100,000 to that pile, Amazon’s van fleet will roughly equal the 130,000 automobiles in UPS’s world fleet.

Whereas Rivian is a small participant, it’s a logical companion for Amazon, which led a $700 million funding spherical in Rivian earlier this yr and presumably received a pleasant deal on its bulk order. Going electrical may assist assuage Amazon staff upset by their employer’s function within the local weather disaster, and will save the corporate on gas prices—recharging even a big battery pack often prices just some {dollars}. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed the order throughout an look Thursday morning targeted on climate-change points.

What’s not clear is how these vans will match into Amazon’s logistics community. Its current effort to take management of its supply operations has produced a hodgepodge of “Supply Service Companions” (together with former workers paid $10,000 to stop and begin their very own package-hauling companies), “Flex” drivers, and offers with supply corporations like UPS. Amazon may present the Rivian vans to particular person drivers (because it already does with some automobiles), however it could want to make sure these drivers may recharge the batteries every night time. EVs work particularly properly in fleet operations, the place they will return to the identical spot each night (or at any time when) to plug in. An Amazon spokesperson declined to reply questions on how a lot it can pay per car, and the way it will incorporate the vans into its community.

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