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092319 Amazon Prime Rivian van.jpg Amazon
A concept of the Rivian Amazon Prime electric delivery van.

Amazon to add 100,000 electric vans to Prime fleet

Bezos announces plan for the e-commerce giant to completely run on renewable energy in the next decade.

Amazon’s plan to run on 100% renewable energy by 2030 will include 100,000 battery-electric delivery vans, which the e-commerce giant will purchase from Rivian Automotive Inc.

CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled plans to buy 100,000 electric vans from Rivian that will be custom-built for Prime deliveries. This deal follows a $700 million investment in Rivian by Amazon earlier this year. The first Rivian vehicles would arrive in 2021. 

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” Bezos said. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon — which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”

With this plan, Bezos said Amazon would reach 80% renewable energy use by 2024 and 100% by 2030, up from 40% today. 

The electric Rivian Prime vans will be assembled at a 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing plant, previously owned by Mitsubishi, in Normal, IL.

The Amazon order is a big contract for Rivian, which is aiming to launch its R1T plug-in pickup and R1S sport utility vehicle late next year. Those Rivian vehicles are projected to offer a range of more than 400 miles per charge, and have a base price between $68,000 and $72,500, the company said in February. The R1T pickup can tow 11,000 lbs., and go from zero to 60 mph in 3 about seconds, company officials said.

Financial terms of Amazon’s van deal were not released. 

092319 amazon jeff bezos Christiana Figueres.jpg

“Bold steps by big companies will make a huge difference in the development of new technologies and industries to support a low carbon economy,” said Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ former climate change chief and founding partner of Global Optimism. “With this step, Amazon also helps many other companies to accelerate their own decarbonization. If Amazon can set ambitious goals like this and make significant changes at their scale, we think many more companies should be able to do the same and will accept the challenge.”

Amazon Employees for Climate Change has been pressuring Amazon this year to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and detail how it’s preparing to deal with business disruptions caused by climate change. Inside Amazon’s annual meeting in May, an employee speaking on behalf of the group asked for the opportunity to share her concerns with Bezos directly but was denied. Shareholders later voted down their proposal for Amazon to disclose a comprehensive climate change plan. 

The employee group on Thursday called Amazon’s pledge “a huge win.” 

“We’re thrilled at what workers [have] been able to achieve in less than a year,” the group said in a statement. “But we know it’s not enough.”

Amazon has already launched 15 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects that will generate over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of clean energy annually — enough to power 368,000 U.S. homes. Amazon has also installed more than 50 solar rooftops on fulfillment centers and sort centers around the globe that generate 98 MW of renewable capacity and deliver 130,000 MWh of clean energy annually.

Information from Bloomberg News was used in this article.

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