In a move to slash carbon emissions, Amazon will purchase 100,000 Rivian electric trucks that will start service as early as 2021.
The giant retailer plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022. That would save 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030, said Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive.
Rivian is an electric vehicle startup based in Plymouth, Mich. that is developing a line of electric pickups and SUVs. It will build the vehicles at a 2.6-million-square-foot former Mitsubishi assembly plant in Normal., Ill., that it bought in a 2017 liquidation sale for $16 million.
“It’s clearly a significant commitment that almost ensures Rivian makes it past the starting line,” said Michael Ramsey, senior research director at Gartner Inc. “The contract helps subsidize investment in the plant and gives certainty to banks that they can lend the company money for working capital.”
THE CLIMATE PLEDGE
Bezos announced the large order Thursday as Amazon became the first company to sign The Climate Pledge, a commitment to meet the Paris Climate Agreement 10 years early. The pledge requires companies to have net-zero carbon emissions by 2040. Bezos said Amazon also would transition to using 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon—which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”
Amazon’s order for Rivian electric delivery vans is the largest order ever for electric delivery vehicles. It provides the startup with volume manufacturing that will provide a foundation for production and drive down expenses.
“With a skateboard platform that is specifically engineered to support multiple top hats, they could potentially grab some more business from other delivery companies like FedEx, UPS and DHL,” said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research.
“Now that they see Amazon committing in a big way to electrification they may also want to leverage the operating cost advantages of an EV in order to keep pace,” he said.
Earlier this year Amazon led a $700 million investment round and Ford put $500 million into Rivian. Bezos said Amazon’s investment amounted to $440 million. Earlier this month Rivian landed a $350 million investment from Cox Automotive, the owner of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.
That latest investment brings Rivian’s valuation to about $3.5 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. That mean’s Amazon owns about 13 percent of the electric vehicle company. Rivian told Trucks.com it is neither providing nor commenting on valuation estimates.
Rivian has entered the final stages of testing its R1T pickup as it nears launching full-scale production in 2020. It also will build the R1S SUV.
THE ELECTRIC TRUCK
The R1T pickup is designed for both everyday transit and as a capable adventure-ready off-roader.
Rivian has optimized the truck for off-roading. Each wheel is powered by an independent electric motor. The truck’s axles and the standard air suspension will allow for 10.6-inches of articulation at each corner.
The truck has five ride heights that accommodate situations where the vehicle must climb over rocks or lower itself to clear branches.
Rivian said the truck will go from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds. The truck promises at least an 11,000-pound towing capacity.
Rivian will have a 400-mile range in its top-tier truck and SUV models. The R1T will come with a choice of 105 kW, 135kW or 180kW battery packs. Those equate to about 230 miles, over 300 miles and over 400 miles of range. Rivian predicts that using a DC fast charger, owners can get 200 miles of range in 30 minutes.
The company has designed the vehicles around Level 3 self-driving technology. That is the industry label for cars that can drive themselves with occasional human intervention.
Pricing for the R1T starts at $69,000. The R1S starting price is $72,500. The company has previously said it expects six of its models to be on sale by 2025.