No, we did not make a typo. Rivian is making an electric van, alongside its upcoming R1T pickup truck. Amazon invested an undisclosed amount into the EV startup at the start of 2019 and later announced that the company is going to partner with Rivian to purpose-build custom electric vans for Amazon delivery. The purpose of this is to drive down Amazon’s costs by making a vehicle designed for the specific purpose of Amazon package delivery.
The vehicles that Amazon and Rivian are building together are exclusively designed for Amazon. That means we can expect built-in package tracking, a cargo designed for Amazon box dimensions, and probably will be designed such that it can easily dock with warehouses, allowing for easy transfer of packages into the vehicles. Again, these are all assumptions. If the trillion-dollar tech giant is designing delivery vehicles specifically for its delivery purposes, it is probably going all the way.
On Tuesday, Amazon and Rivian revealed details on the progress of the development of the custom vehicles. They have made a full-size clay model of the vehicle, which will later be lead to production metal. Building a clay model is usually the first step of any vehicle design.
However, the build of the vehicle is only of concern to Amazon. Rivian and Amazon have also made sure that the interior and cockpit are minimalistic, in order for delivery contractors to be able to easily operate the new vehicle. The driver will have access to a digital instrument cluster, a central screen with built-in Alexa, and obviously some sort of delivery management/logistics system.
When Rivian first announced its plans to make an electric vehicle, everyone was skeptical. There have been so many EV startups (ex: Faraday Future) that have failed to deliver a mass-producible vehicle. The fact that Amazon is pretty much contracting Rivian (don’t really know what word to use since they own a large stake) to build custom electric vehicles pretty much guarantees at least a modest success for the company in the consumer market.
Ford will also be using Rivian’s platform to build Lincoln’s first electric vehicle. Rivian has two vehicles coming soon: the electric pickup R1T this year and the electric SUV R1S next year. Amazon plans to have 10,000 Rivian electric vans by 2021, and a total of 100,000 vans by 2030.
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