Amazon puts in ‘largest order ever’ of delivery EVs

Source: By David Iaconangelo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Sunday, September 22, 2019

Retail giant Amazon.com Inc. said yesterday it would buy 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from startup automaker Rivian in a deal that one analyst called “quite possibly, the largest single EV purchase in history.”

Announced as part of Amazon’s pledge to make all of its operations carbon neutral by 2040, the first vehicles from the deal — electric vans for package delivery — will begin appearing in 2021 and roll out over the course of the decade, with the full fleet introduced by 2030.

The size of the agreement, which Amazon described as “the largest order ever for electric delivery vehicles,” dwarfs any other corporate or state government-backed purchase. Among the largest previously announced agreements was FedEx Corp.’s purchase of 1,000 delivery vans from startup Chanje last year.

In California, which wants to electrify public transit entirely by 2040, state and municipal agencies operate about 12,000 transit buses. The fleet of package delivery giant UPS Inc. comes out to about 123,000 vehicles in total.

Pavel Molchanov, an energy analyst at investment bank Raymond James who made the “largest single EV purchase in history” comment, said the action also proved that transit and school buses aren’t the only types of fleet vehicles that will electrify. “Today’s headline-grabbing announcement by Amazon shows that this trend is not limited to buses,” he said.

Compressed natural gas suppliers will face a “long-term headwind” from electric fleets, wrote Molchanov.

The announcement also puts new responsibility on the shoulders of Rivian.

The Michigan-based zero-emissions carmaker hasn’t yet sold a single car, but it looms large in the U.S. auto industry’s plans for electrification. It has been valued at around $2 billion, with investments from Ford Motor Co., Amazon and logistics provider Cox Automotive accounting for the bulk of that.

The company has so far unveiled a pickup truck and SUV — the highest-profit types of cars for U.S. manufacturers — and it says both prototypes can get 400 miles on a single charge.