Amazon, Rivian expand to 100 US cities

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

Of course, that means plenty of excitement – if you can call it that – for the drivers who have to deliver all these gifts without the luxury of a hyper-speed sled. In fact, this peak season will be electric for some drivers.

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

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

While still a small part of Amazon’s fleet of 30,000 branded delivery vehicles and 20,000 branded trailers, Rivian custom electric vehicles are steadily weaving into the fabric of the company’s transportation network.

“We always look forward to 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 have already shipped over 5 million packages using our Rivian produced vehicles and this is just the beginning – this number will grow exponentially as we continue to reach our goal of 100,000 vehicles.”

As Madan alluded to, the e-commerce giant aims to have 100,000 Rivian electric vehicles delivered to its network by 2030. The bespoke vehicles are all from Amazon’s original October 2020 order, but only a fraction of them have hit the road so far. Former CEO Jeff Bezos originally predicted that all 100,000 would take to the streets by 2024.

Watch: Review of near-term electric vehicle needs

Designed with safety and the driving experience in mind, the bespoke electric vehicles are equipped with features such as state-of-the-art sensors and exterior cameras, a reinforced driver’s door, a spacious driver’s cab and Alexa integration for hands-free access to information such as route and weather.

“Fleet electrification is essential to achieve the global zero-emissions goal,” said Jiten Behl, Chief Growth Officer at Rivian. “So it’s amazing to see our production supporting Amazon’s rollout in cities across the country. Not just for the environment, but also for our teams who are 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 perform local and regional deliveries for the company in exchange for training and access to its technology and logistics network. So far the reviews have been glowing.

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

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

Analysts have also maintained a bullish stance on Rivian and its electric vehicles, despite a massive recall of the R1T and R1S models.

Wedbush Securities analyst Dan Ives noted last month that the EV maker’s partnership with Amazon could have significant value across the board: “With Amazon owning a 20% stake in the company, Rivians supplies EV delivery vans ( called RCV) Amazon with an order of delivery of 100,000 units by 2025.

“Considering the Amazon partnership, which represents an estimated value of approximately $7 billion in vehicle orders and LTR in services,” Ives continued, “we believe there will be even more value to come from this partnership in the distant future in the form of more vehicles could arise.”

If Amazon’s commitment to sustainability is any indication, its prediction might hold water. The company has committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 as part of its Climate Pledge, so chances are EVs will only be part of that effort.

And just last month it announced a €1 billion investment to electrify its European transport network. The investment will add more than 7,000 electric vans, nearly 1,500 electric trucks and 20 micro-mobility hubs across the continent by 2025, the company predicts.

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