By on September 19, 2019

Amazon

Isn’t Rivian the popular thing these days? Courted by Amazon and Ford with investments of $700 million and $500 million, respectively, the Michigan-based EV startup recently gained a cash infusion from Cox Automotive.

Now, that very first investment is bearing fruit — 100,000 pieces of it, promised for a three-year delivery window.

Back in February, Amazon dumped a pile of cash on the automaker’s fledgling operation, a move that surely heralded a massive vehicle order in the near future. Seven months later, and the order is in: 100,000 electric delivery vans, due to start rolling out of Amazon distribution centers in 2021.

The vans are a big part of a pledge issued by the online shopping giant on Thursday. In co-founding “The Climate Pledge,” Amazon plans to reach the goal of the Paris climate agreement a decade early. By 2023, Amazon aims to consume only renewable energy. By 2040, it wants its entire operation to go carbon-neutral. Enter the vans.

“The $440 million investment will accelerate the production of electric vehicles critical to reducing emissions from transportation,” Amazon said in a media release. “To further advance this goal, Amazon today announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030 – saving 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.”

Of course, 100,000 electric vans ordered is not the same as 100,000 electric vans delivered; Rivian will have its hands full filling the order via production at its Normal, Illinois assembly plant. The automaker also has an EV pickup truck and midsize SUV on the way, with the first deliveries expected to reach buyers late next year. Then there’s its partnership with Ford. Together, Rivian and Ford plan to co-develop a new electric vehicle for the Blue Oval brand.

Image: Rivian

Things are clearly coming together in a hurry for Rivian. Over at Amazon, the company will need to ensure its facilities are equipped to handle the serious recharging needs of this future delivery fleet.

While the van’s specs aren’t known, we do know roughly what they’ll look like. The company’s senior vice president of operations, Dave Clark, tweeted an image of one earlier today. It’s assumed the van, like the company’s R1T pickup and R1S SUV, will ride atop a version of Rivian’s innovative “Skateboard” platform and boast varying battery sizes.

The R1S is said to be able to travel 410 miles between charges when equipped with a 180-kWh battery pack. Hub motors drive each wheel independently, though it’s unlikely a van would bother with the additional weight, cost, and capability of electric 4WD.

[Image: Amazon/Twitter, Rivian]

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49 Comments on “Following Big Cash Dump, Amazon Taps Rivian for 100,000 EVs...”


  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “…saving 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030…”

    Wow. I can feel the planet cooling already.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    When will the loonies realize that plants require CO2 so the most sense would be for the rich left to tear down their mansions and to plant trees there – and then to live in a tent without toilet paper and with a paper cup to do their nasties.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      When will the loonies realize that co2 needs PLANTS to absorb it–plants that are being destroyed on a daily basis to provide land for manufacturing, cattle ranching and other industrial purposes. Sure, CO2 will help existing plants but the number of existing plants is falling at an unprecedented rate.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      When will the right wingers realize that we’ve cleared about half of the world’s forests, which is really the cause of climate change much more so than emissions. And that’s where the “global warming is natural” argument falls apart because the planet doesn’t have the same methods to correct it that it had millions of years ago

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Tesla who?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Tesla – the ones who pioneered the “innovative” skateboard platform with varying battery sizes.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      For the life of me I can’t figure out how Amazon and Tesla haven’t gotten together by now. It seems like a match made in heaven.

      I’m not even slightly kidding.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Bezos probably figured out that the car business is a s*itty way to make money.

        My money’s on Toyota being the eventual merger partner, BTW.

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          “My money’s on Toyota being the eventual merger partner, BTW.”

          …in exactly the same way M-B was the “merger partner” with Chrysler…

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Yep, that’d be how it’d play out.

            Eventually, either Tesla is going to prove itself unsustainable and in need of a buyout, or if it’s working, someone’s going to offer to buy it so they can have a turn-key EV business. That company would be a) one with deep pockets, and b) no EV products currently. Hence, Toyota.

            Or maybe Musk gets tired of the car biz, and decides he wants the cash to pursue his Tony Stark ambitions (which, honestly, may be the way he makes his biggest impact).

          • 0 avatar
            geozinger

            “My money’s on Toyota being the eventual merger partner, BTW.”

            They were already working together once before and Tesla got out of the deal.

            I suspect that Toyota will continue it’s absorption of the rest of the Japanese auto industry and develop it’s own BEVs instead. You know, because Japan…

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          Agree with Geozinger. The Japanese are even more proud of their nationality than Americans. Buying someone else’s work and taking the easy way out isn’t going to fly there. It’s either their way or the highway, as Toyota’s commitment to hydrogen still shows

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            But the Supra is a BMW, though I guess it certainly isnt unprecedented for the Japanese and Germans to partner up on something.

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Regarding the rendering: Why are concept electric vehicles so often rendered as cartoonish clown cars? Real electric vehicles, like Tesla Model S look pretty darn good, even desirable.

  • avatar
    James2

    Not holding my breath awaiting news of Amazon parking its fleet of Boeing 767 freighters in the Arizona desert.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      On the plus side they’ll be able to grab all those 737 Max 8’s for cheap and convert them to cargo as it seems less and less likely they will ever carry passengers again. Certainly they have a lower carbon footprint than the old 767.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’m a fan of Rivian’s potential, but they haven’t built a single vehicle. Tesla has built around 500k by now.

    Rivian’s engineers have to be sweating how they’re going to throw the switch on 100k vehicle production and support overnight. Money won’t solve every problem.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      If Rivian doesn’t understand reliability, they will learn about it quickly. Because unlike Tesla where most fanboys have a garage full of ICE cars to drive while their Tesla is in “service hell”, Amazon will be serious about uptime.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Amazon will be serious about uptime.”

        Yep, and that means that if Amazon’s willing to bankroll these guys, they’re doing something right.

        I suspect that uptime will be one of the big selling points of commercial EVs – with fewer moving parts under the hood, there’s less stuff to go wrong. Plus, if Amazon buys into solar panels at its’ facilities, it can provide its’ own fuel. It’s another piece of vertical integration, if you think about it. Wouldn’t surprise me if they got into the solar business for this very reason.

        • 0 avatar
          scott25

          I don’t feel like the mechanicals will be the problems. It’s everywhere else on the vehicle where a startup has some learning to do

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          “I suspect that uptime will be one of the big selling points of commercial EVs – with fewer moving parts under the hood, there’s less stuff to go wrong.”

          My time with a Wankel taught me that this isn’t always true.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Rivian’s engineers have to be sweating how they’re going to throw the switch on 100k vehicle production and support overnight. Money won’t solve every problem.”

      Are you kidding? Just partner with Musk. He makes unicorns appear out of pink cotton candy clouds.

      I bet Musk would argue that one can, in fact, make a baby in one month by using 9 women.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    Rivian seems like the automotive equivalent of a music industry “plant”.

    There’s a slight whiff of astroturfing here. If Rivian succeeds and rivals or surpasses Tesla in some way, then the big automakers sponsoring them will stand next to them in the spotlight. If they fail miserably, then the big automakers will quietly duck out the back.

    Still, I find the idea of Rivian’s vehicles and company a little bit interesting. An electric truck from Michigan? Sure, ok, sounds cool. Tim Taylor would buy one (were he non-fictional).

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      HQ is in Michigan; the plant is in Illinois.

      To your point – for perspective, Amazon’s $440 million investment represents about 1/2 day of revenue for them. If it doesn’t work out, oh well.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    When Amazon says it’s green by using electric vans, it’s just passing the CO2 problem someone else!

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      IMO, CO2 isn’t a pollutant.

      But to your point, even coal-fired EVs are cleaner than an ICE car, thanks to efficiencies of scale at the plant, and the basic efficiency of the EV. Going EV is not an equivalent shift of pollution.

      • 0 avatar
        2manycars

        You are correct, CO2 is not a pollutant, and not a reason to move to electric vehicles. However though electrics make no economic sense in most cases as personal vehicles they might be advantageous in commercial service. Certainly Amazon is not the first company to use electric delivery vans…

        https://www.olddublintown.com/swastika-laundry.html

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          That guy must have been real popular at dinner parties after 1939.

        • 0 avatar
          RHD

          Too much CO2 causes serious problems. Try sitting in your parked car with four more people and the windows rolled up, and see how long it takes for the CO2 to become overwhelming.
          Water isn’t a pollutant either, but it’s problematic when there is too much of it where it doesn’t belong.
          It’s very easy to dismiss those who care about the environment and the future by calling them “libs”, “dems”, “loonies” and so on. The ones who teach that attitude are doing so only because they feel their wealth and privilege might be in danger.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Ignore the green posturing here – if Amazon’s doing this, there’s only one reason: it’s cost-effective. Same reason why Wal-Mart is putting solar panes (that hopefully don’t catch fire) on the roofs of their stores. Cost efficiency is the reason behind *everything* these guys do, and that’s what’s put so many of their competitors on the dungheap.

    In the end, EVs aren’t about saving the planet – they’re about making money. If they save a few whales in the process, then godspeed.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Didn’t commercial clients “commit” to buying tens of thousands of Leafs and Volts too?

    Those commercial sales never materialized despite the commitments.

  • avatar
    Carrera

    So they are not going to use fossil fuel to charge the huge fleet? Will it be all solar and wind power?

  • avatar

    Thats the great news! Bezos knows what he is doing. You deniers can theoreticize whole day sitting in your armchairs about what Rivian can and cannot do but I am sure they in Michigan know how to built cars. It is called can do attitude. I hope Walmart, Fedex and UPS will follow the suit.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve long wondered why more delivery services like UPS or FedEx didn’t hop on the hybrid train. We’ve seen plenty of interesting concepts presented by UPS for different kinds of hybrid trucks, but never implemented.

    Now it seems Amazon is all in on the electric truck (electruck?) trend, especially in light of it’s investment in Rivian. I’m a bit skeptical about Rivian being able to ramp up to meet this demand. The situation reminds me of the current Cleveland Browns, you can hire a bunch of talent, but until they play together for a while, you really don’t know well it’s going to work.

    I hope it does come together, as this will blaze a trail for other commercial outfits. Maybe Rivian can make some passenger versions of this chassis/body combo and use them for either school bus or airport shuttle service. This vehicle looks like it could service several markets, with it’s stated capabilities.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      UPS has tried a couple of different hybrids and EVs but currently it accounts for less than 1% of their fleet. Fed Ex and DHL also have some Hybrids or EVs but again they currently are a very small portion of their fleet.

  • avatar
    j10dave

    “…100,000 pieces of it, promised for a three-year delivery window.”

    “… all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030.”

    Wouldn’t that be a 10 year delivery window???

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    What will be interesting to see is whether this isn’t the point where Amazon starts a competing parcel delivery service, with drop points at Amazon Lockers.


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