Today’s Pickup: Amazon turns 25; China pivots toward fuel cell electric vehicles

Good Day,

On July 5, 1995 Jeff Bezos left his job at a hedge fund in New York, drove across the country and launched an online book selling business from his garage in a Seattle suburb. On the occasion of Amazon’s 25th birthday, Inc. Magazine has put together a list of fun facts reminding us what the world was like two-and-a-half decades ago. Virtually no one had internet access, and the White House didn’t have a website. And yet, one famous book retailer beat the e-commerce giant to the punch. That would be, which got off the ground in 1993.

Other news outlets are observing the occasion by speculating what the next quarter-century holds for the e-commerce giant. “There’s not a lot of understanding around how decisions are being made,”  Amy Webb, founder of the Future Today Institute told Marketplace. “This is the challenge that Amazon faces over the next 25 years. How does the future of government and how does competition get fostered in an era in which our democracy and the laws that we have don’t necessarily play well with the way that our technology has evolved?”

Did you know?

Consumers spent $945 million on fireworks in  2018, which is a $250 million increase since 2014, and sales are expected to reach nearly $1 billion in 2019. Of the estimated 50 million fireworks imported each year, 94 percent come from China. (FreightWaves)


“We try to eliminate any wasted movement. If you have one second that’s adding to the process, it doesn’t seem like a lot. But if you do that 1,000 times a day, that’s when it starts adding up.”

LeVar Kellogg, a picker who trains other pickers at an Amazon facility near Chicago, on the pressure to be productive. (New York Times)

In other news

Latin America EV sales surge 90 percent

Mexico accounted for nearly half the growth alongside a strong showing from Colombia and Costa Rica. (Forbes)

French start-up Kwik delivers in Nigeria

The company aims to become the country’s  first platform for last-mile delivery. (AfricaNews)

China’s ‘father of EV’ urges more hydrogen infrastructure to develop fuel cell vehicles

The party vice chairman touted fuel-cell vehicles for logistics and long-term transportation purposes. (Reuters)

California grocery workers gain support from other labor groups

Leaders from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, which represents 800,000 workers and their families, voted to endorse a strike by grocery workers. (Los Angeles Times)

Final thoughts:

The $500,000 fine Anheuser-Busch incurred this week as a result of violating California’s air pollution laws called attention to ramped-up enforcement on the part of the Golden State, where emissions are down in almost every sector – except transportation. Tailpipe emissions continue to rise, amounting to 40 percent of state totals. (The most recent greenhouse gas emissions inventory report dates to 2016, but experts say the trends point to a continued rise.) The state is attacking the problem on all fronts, with an epic battle brewing between California and the Trump Administration, which has announced plans to roll back California’s fuel-efficiency standards.

Hammer down, everyone!

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to