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Amazon, Rivian rolling out EVs in more cities ahead of holidays

Vehicles will deliver in over 100 US cities

Amazon's custom electric delivery vehicle from Rivian, pictured, has completed more than 5 million deliveries since launching in July (Photo: Amazon)

It’s almost that time of year. For consumers, the holidays are always a source of excitement, especially with the near-infinite selection of gifts available through online retailers.

Of course, that means plenty of excitement — if you could call it that — for the drivers who have to deliver all of those presents without the luxury of a hyperspeed sleigh. In fact, for some drivers, this peak season will be electric.

On Monday, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) and electric vehicle maker Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN) announced an expansion of their electric delivery partnership, bringing the service to over 100 U.S. cities ahead of the holidays. More than 1,000 custom Rivian EVs will be on the road delivering for Amazon in the coming months.

New cities added to the companies’ network include Austin, Texas; Boston; Denver; Houston; Indianapolis; Las Vegas; Madison, Wisconsin; Newark, New Jersey; New York; Oakland, California; Pittsburgh; Portland, Oregon; and Salt Lake City and Provo, Utah.

While still representing a small portion of Amazon’s fleet of 30,000 branded delivery vehicles and 20,000 branded trailers, custom EVs from Rivian are steadily weaving their way into the fabric of the company’s transportation network.

“We’re always excited for the holiday season, but making deliveries to customers across the country with our new zero-emission vehicles for the first time makes this year unique,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Amazon Transportation. “We’ve already delivered over 5 million packages with our vehicles produced by Rivian, and this is still just the beginning — that figure will grow exponentially as we continue to make progress toward our 100,000-vehicle goal.”

As Madan alluded, the e-commerce giant is looking to have 100,000 Rivian EVs making deliveries for its network by 2030. The custom-designed vehicles all come from Amazon’s initial purchase order in October 2020, but only a fraction of them have hit the road so far. Former CEO Jeff Bezos originally predicted that all 100,000 would hit the road by 2024.

Watch: Testing the short-term needs for electric vehicles

Built with safety and driver experience in mind, the custom EVs are loaded with features like state-of-the-art sensors and exterior cameras, a strengthened driver-side door, a spacious driver’s cabin and an Alexa integration for hands-free access to information like routing and weather.

“Fleet electrification is essential to reaching the world’s zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, chief growth officer at Rivian. “So, to see our ramp up in production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country is amazing. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams working hard to get tens of thousands of electric delivery vehicles on the road.”

Amazon has distributed some of its Rivian EVs among its Delivery Service Partners, or DSPs, small businesses that make local and regional deliveries for the firm in exchange for training and access to its technology and logistics network. So far, the reviews have been glowing.

“We started making deliveries with the electric vehicles from Rivian in August, and my team has had nothing but good things to say about the vans,” said Julieta Dennis, owner of Kangaroo Logistics and an Amazon DSP. “The safety features, like the automatic emergency braking and 360-degree cameras, are game changers, and the drivers also love the overall comfort of the vehicle.”

Another driver based in Seattle posted a similar review to his YouTube channel, praising the vehicle’s advantages over its gas-powered counterparts.

Analysts have also maintained a bullish stance on Rivian and its EVs despite a massive recall of its R1T and R1S models. 

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives last month noted that the EV maker’s partnership with Amazon could have substantial value down the line: “With Amazon a 20% owner of the company, Rivian’s EV Delivery Van (named the RCV) is supplying Amazon with an order of 100k unit deliveries by 2025.

“Honing in on the Amazon partnership representing a ~$7 billion estimated value of vehicle orders and LTR of services,” Ives continued, “we believe even further value could come from this partnership in the form of more vehicles in the distant future.”

If Amazon’s commitments toward sustainability are any indication, his prediction may hold water. The firm has committed to reaching net-zero carbon by 2040 as part of its Climate Pledge, so chances are that EVs will only be a portion of that effort.

And just last month, it announced an investment of 1 billion euros to electrify its European transportation network. The investment will add more than 7,000 electric vans, nearly 1,500 electric heavy-goods vehicles and 20 micromobility hubs across the continent by 2025, the company projects.

Click for more Modern Shipper articles by Jack Daleo.

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Jack Daleo

Jack Daleo is a staff writer for Flying Magazine covering advanced air mobility, including everything from drones to unmanned aircraft systems to space travel — and a whole lot more. He spent close to two years reporting on drone delivery for FreightWaves, covering the biggest news and developments in the space and connecting with industry executives and experts. Jack is also a basketball aficionado, a frequent traveler and a lover of all things logistics.