Amazon reveals design of its Rivian-powered electric delivery van

Amazon has revealed the design of its upcoming all-electric delivery vehicle, produced in partnership with Rivian.

The $1 trillion dollar e-commerce giant has taken the wraps off a life-size clay model and a small-scale model of its planned delivery van. Unsurprisingly, the all-electric vehicle looks very similar to the current Amazon Prime delivery vans, but with slightly rounded design cues and improved ergonomics and safety features.

Last year, Amazon announced that it has teamed up with electric truck startup Rivian to produce a massive 100,000-unit fleet of electric delivery vans. Amazon says it spent 18 months analyzing electric delivery truck options on the market until it decided to build its own custom van designed specifically for its delivery business.

The latest development reveals how far the Amazon-Rivian partnership has gone toward meeting Amazon’s goal of sending the first of the 100,000 vans delivering packages to American homes by 2021. Amazon hopes to get 10,000 of its electric vans deployed by 2022 and all 100,000 by the end of the decade.

Both the small-scale and life-size clay models were designed at the Rivian headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan, where rows of design boards featuring numerous versions of the Amazon delivery van fill an entire side of the studio.

Amazon’s life-size clay model of its electric delivery van sits at the Rivian headquarters in Plymouth, Michigan.

In another room, Rivian has put together a virtual reality simulation setup to allow drivers to test the new driving experience and offer suggestions for improvement. Amazon says it has consulted heavily with its drivers in working on the truck’s final design, considering certain factors such as loading and unloading of packages, ease of getting in and out of the van, and seat comfort.

“We’re focused on driving efficiency into every aspect of the vehicle design—everything from cabin heating to driver ergonomics to drivetrain design has been optimized for time and energy,” says Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe.

Amazon says the van will be in three sizes with multiple battery configurations to suit various delivery routes. It will come with front-wheel and all-wheel driving options for different terrains and a variety of safety technologies, including automated emergency brakes, lane-keep assist, and a pedestrian warning system. The dashboard will include Amazon’s logistics management system and will provide drivers with the most efficient routes for delivery. It will also integrate Alexa to allow drivers to make hands-free voice commands.

Amazon’s plan to build its own fleet of electric delivery vans is part of its Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Agreement in 10 years.

“When we succeed, if we displace those gasoline vehicles with electric vehicles, it will be a large step forward in making our package delivery business sustainable and it has a positive impact on the environment,” says Ross Rachey, director of global last-mile at Amazon.

Amazon is not the only major company that has partnered with Rivian. In January, Ford announced that it is working with Rivian to produce the first electric truck for its Lincoln luxury brand. The startup is also gearing up to release two of its own electric vehicles, the R1T pickup truck, and the R1S SUV, both of which are built on Rivian’s flat-frame skateboard platform. Both vehicles will also come integrated with Alexa.

Nicole Arce: I write about science and technology that changes the world.
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