August 28th, 2020 by Steve Hanley
On August 28, Amazon announced it has ordered 1,800 battery electric delivery vans from Mercedes Benz. According to a report by Yahoo! News, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said the order was part of his company’s “journey to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world.” The order is for 1,200 of the large Mercedes e-Sprinter and 600 of the smaller e-Vito vans, with the majority being used to deliver packages in Europe and the rest assigned to delivery chores in the UK.
The corporate goal is for the entire Amazon delivery fleet consisting of hundreds of thousands of vehicles from bicycles to tractor trailers to be carbon neutral by 2040. Mercedes on Friday signed Amazon’s Climate Pledge, which calls on the companies it does business with to commit to being carbon neutral by 2040.
The order for Europe and the UK is just a small part of Amazon’s delivery fleet in those countries, where Germany alone is the company’s second largest market, trailing only the United States. Amazon has placed a far larger order for 100,000 electric delivery vans with Rivian, a company it has made a major investment in. Is it possible that some of those Rivian vans could wind up in countries other than the US?
The two companies have conducted an extensive collaboration to design the delivery vans of the future, focusing on efficiency and an ergonomic design that suits the needs of the drivers who will operate them. As Kyle Field reported earlier this year, “As one might expect from a technology company, the vehicles are…..packed with technology to make driving safer, enjoyable, and functional for its drivers. They will come with a standard kit of advanced safety features like automated emergency braking, front wheel or all wheel drive, lane keep assist, pedestrian warning system, and a distracted driver warning system designed to keep drivers safe.”
Rivian and Amazon have come up with three different vehicle designs optimized for Amazon’s delivery business. The capacity of the battery pack can also be adjusted to meet the needs of the specific route being served on any given day. “We are 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,” said R.J. Scaringe, CEO of Rivian. “And then the echo effect of this, of causing other logistics players in this space to also look at how they drive up efficiency within their fleet, will have a very large impact.”
Compare the look of the Rivian electric van with the e-Sprinter electric van. One is clearly the future, the other is clearly not. Could it be the new order Amazon has placed with Mercedes Benz is a stop gap measure designed to hold the fort until newer vehicles with more modern design are available? The last of the electric delivery vans from Rivian are not scheduled to arrive until 2030. It’s possible Amazon is hedging its bets until the vehicles it really wants are available.
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