Online retail giant Amazon has given the world a first glimpse of the all-electric, zero emissions van that it has designed and built with Michigan-based EV startup Rivian.
The announcement of Amazon’s plan to deploy 10,000 electric vans came as part of its Climate Pledge that coincided with the Global Climate Strike of September 2019.
Thursday’s reveal of the first of three electric delivery vehicles being developed under the partnership emphasises the improvements in driver experience and safety that have been the project’s focus. For a full reveal see the video at the bottom of this article.
“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 boss RJ Scaringe, in a statement on Amazon’s website.
“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.”
Features of the new electric van highlighted by Amazon include a wide front windshield to maximise driver visibility, a host of sensors that feed the vehicle’s highway and traffic assistance technology, as well as exterior cameras to ensure drivers get a full 360 degree view around the van.
Visually, the custom Amazon electric van has a friendly look that no doubt the company wants it customers to associate with the delivery of goods.
Naturally, Amazon’s voice-operated assistant Alexa is integrated into the van to give hands-free access to information such as navigation and weather.
Additional features such as a strengthened driver side door, “dancefloor” in the driver’s cabin to ensure safe and easy movement, and bright tail lights that surround the back of the van to clearly communicate braking also enhance driver safety.
“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, in the blog.
“We combined Rivian’s technology with our delivery logistics knowledge, and the result is what you see here-the future of last mile delivery.”
Amazon is also adding 1,800 electric Mercedes-Benz vans to its European operations.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.