To conserve the environment, Amazon is pushing for renewable energy on its fleet of delivery vehicles. They have ordered 100,000 electric delivery vans from Rivian Automotive, making this the largest electric vehicle order to date. Amazon aims to convert all its delivery fleet to 100% renewable energy by 2030. To date, Amazon operates about 40% of its vehicle on renewable energy. To kick start the deal, Rivian is said to deliver the first round of R1S SUV and R1T pickups by the end of 2020.
Electric Vehicle Basics
Electric vehicles (EVs) are cars that are powered by electricity. In the case of Amazon, they will combine both electricity and renewable energy to power cars. There are several classifications of EVs based on how much they depend on electricity as their power source. For example, hybrid vehicles have an engine-powered using petrol or electricity, while EVs are 100% electric.
What makes the electric motors more efficient than a standard car’s engine is that it uses regenerative braking. Essentially, the EV converts kinetic energy produced when braking (which would otherwise be wasted in regular vehicles) into energy that is then preserved to be used to charge the battery.
Amazon and Rivian Automotive plans
In 2019, Rivian began discussing opportunities to work with Amazon, which led to Amazon issuing a $700 million cheque to Rivian. A few months later, it has been confirmed that the opportunity includes developing 100% electric delivery vans for the leading online retailer. Amazon claims that they are looking to have the world’s most sustainable delivery fleet in the years to come. While Rivian isn’t revealing the vehicles’ specifications yet, they have released details on the technology used.
The vehicles will have a digital instrument cluster and central display screen integrated with Amazon logistics management, including a routing and packaging delivery tech to help the driver focus on operating the vehicle. Such technology eliminates the need to provide address and mapping information. Amazon Alexa’s use will also allow the drivers to seek help or use voice commands when sorting packages without having to do it manually.
Rivian plans on using flexible skateboard chassis that will feature quad motors, independent air suspension, hydraulic roll control systems, and thermal systems. Interestingly, Amazon is the first online retailer to sign the Climate Pledge Agreement, which calls for zero-carbon delivery vehicles across all business by 2050.
According to the Climate Pledge, businesses should measure and report greenhouse gas emitted every day. According to the Paris Agreement, changes and innovations, including materials reduction efficiency improvement, renewable energy, and other carbon emission reduction strategies, are put in motion decarbonization strategies. Additionally, businesses should neutralize any remaining emissions with a permanent solution to achieve zero annual carbon emissions by 2040.
These Amazon delivery vehicles are set to start delivering items in 2021, with the plan looking to have 10,000 cars ready by 2022. This project will save millions of metric tons of carbon per year at the end of it all. This is an excellent opportunity for the Rivian company since they have never done electric vehicle production before. Their first vehicles, the R1T and R1S, are said to debut by late 2020.
As a result, the Rivian Automotive has reported that they will lower the prices of the R1T and R1S, which many claims it might be due to the enormous volume of vehicle they’re looking to produce for Amazon.
Different Types of EVs and Their Advantages
Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs)
As the name suggests, these vehicles are purely electrical power; thus, they have zero emissions. Both the Rivian R1T and R1S are battery electric vehicles. They don’t have a tailpipe. These vehicles use rechargeable battery packs rather than the internal combustion engine of a regular car. Reports indicate that these vehicles are cheaper to operate compared to petrol-powered vehicles. You can save up to $1,000 a year on average.
Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs)
As indicated above, HEVs make use of the internal combustion engine with an electric propulsion system. They serve as the midway point between 100% electric vehicles and regular cars. While these vehicles produce emissions, they do so at a much lower rate than conventional vehicles. Rivian forthcoming electric cars will be BEVs; no HEV model has been announced.
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs)
Just like the HEVs, PHEVs operate on an internal combustion engine and electric motor. However, PHEVs differ from HEVs because you can charge the battery by plugging it into an external power source. The vehicle usually depends on batteries; for the most part, it switches to the petrol engine only when depleted. Rivian has not yet announced if they have plans to make PHEVs or not but are instead concentrated on making all-electric trucks and SUVs.
The use of all-electric Rivian delivery vehicles is progressive towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 due to Amazon’s climate pledge. EVs reduce emissions that lead to climate change and smog, leading to improved public health and reducing ecological damage. Also, electric vehicles react quickly, meaning they’re more responsive and have good torque. Not forgetting EVs are more digitally connected; the new Amazon electric delivery vans will be equipped with traffic assist technology and internal digital displays, making delivering packages easier and more effective.