You’ll recognize the gray-blue paint scheme and the bright blue logo, but you may not recognize the near-silent electric van that delivers your next Amazon packages.
The giant online retailer has partnered with electric vehicle startup Rivian to test out new electric delivery vans in Los Angeles. More than a dozen cities are set to follow.
Rivian builds the electric test vans in Michigan, and they feature motors and batteries good for around 150 miles of tailpipe emissions-free driving between charges. That’s about half of what a high-end Tesla can do, but of course Rivian’s vans are considerably larger to accommodate all those cardboard packages.
Amazon is a major buyer of delivery vans from Ford, Ram, and Mercedes-Benz — so much so that some of Amazon’s top brass were on site when Mercedes opened a new van assembly plant in South Carolina a few years ago.
Rivian’s Amazon delivery vans appear to go a step further, though, as the startup is under contract to deliver 100,000 vans to Amazon. They feature Amazon branding inside and out, as well as a custom screen that helps delivery drivers figure out where to go next. Of course, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant is standard fare. Numerous cameras offer a 360-degree view to help drivers inch the big vans down congested urban streets, too.
Amazon has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in Rivian, as has Cox Automotive, the parent of brands including Autotrader.