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Amazon's Electric Delivery Van

by Green Car Journal EditorsJanuary 19, 2022
Start-up auto manufacturer Rivian has developed the Rivian Electric Delivery Van (EDV) to fill the need for zero-emission last mile delivery service operations.
Rivian electric delivery van.

Rivian delivered the first of its R1T trucks to customers late last year, becoming the first auto manufacturer to market with an electric pickup truck. Importantly, it also made initial deliveries of EDV 700 electric delivery van to Amazon.

The Amazon EDV 700 step-in van, which measures in at a 277 inch length and rides on a 187 inch wheelbase, provides a 700 cubic-foot cargo area and an estimated 200 mile driving range. It‘s powered by an electric motor energized by a lithium-ion nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery pack. The automaker plans to offer both single and dual motor, all-wheel drive versions of its commercial van product in the future.

Coming next is the smaller EDV 500,  entering the market later this year with a 500 cubic-foot cargo carrying ability. The EDV 500 has a length of 248 inches and a 157 inch wheelbase,. Following this will be the largest of Rivian’s three electrified vans, the EDV 900 that offers a length of 321 inches over a 205 inch wheelbase. This heavyweight hauler will feature an 840 cubic-foot cargo bay and a GVWR of 14,000 pounds.

Built on 'Skateboard' Platform

Rivian’s electric vehicles are built on an innovative electric ‘skateboard’ platform that integrates the vehicle’s motors, battery, cooling system, braking, and suspension. This strategy allows straightforward adaptation for varying models, wheelbases, and applications, including the company’s electric R1T pickup, R1S SUV, the EDV series it builds for Amazon, and other future Rivian models. This ‘skateboard’ approach is an advanced strategy being used for next-generation electric vehicles by a number of automakers.

Rivian electric delivery van skateboard platform.

The company has received substantial investment from numerous sources including Ford, and Amazon, along with major funding rounds that total some $10.5 billion. Adding to this is the Rivian IPO late last year that raised close to an additional $12 billion. Thus, Rivian is well-positioned to compete alongside legacy automakers and truck manufacturers as these companies begin to offer their own electric commercial vehicles to the market. The company reportedly has over 70,000 preorders for its R1T and R1S products, and importantly it is under agreement to deliver a total of 100,000 EDVs to Amazon by 2025, with the first 10,000 to be delivered by the end of this year.

Electric Delivery Van Focus

Given this, a significant amount of the company’s focus will presumably need to be directed at its Amazon delivery contract even as it scales up production of its initial product, the electric R1T pickup that was recently delivered to initial customers, and its soon-to-come R1S electric SUV. That’s a lot to handle for any start-up auto manufacturer, and juggling production priorities has potential to present challenges. In fact, Rivian announced the delay of its longest-range R1T and R1S models with the Max battery pack until 2023, no doubt as it finds its production sweet spot.

Even with its milestone order and production commitment with Amazon – a company that reportedly now owns 20 percent of this new auto manufacturer – Rivian has launched a fleet page for taking general orders for its Rivian Commercial Van (RCV) variant. The list of potential applications for its electric commercial van models goes well beyond the focused electric last mile delivery purpose of Amazon’s vans, ranging from field service and transport to construction and utility use. These configurable commercial models are designed to fit diverse needs with payload capacities ranging from 1,960 to 5,300 pounds. Rivian says deliveries of the RCV will begin in 2023.

Rivian is making strategic moves to increase production with a 623,000 square foot expansion of its manufacturing facility in Normal, Illinois – a former Mitsubishi assembly plant – to a total of 4 million square feet. The company is also moving forward with plans for a second production and technology facility near Atlanta, Georgia, with a potential build capacity of 400,000 vehicles per year. Representing a $5 billion investment, Rivian is hoping to begin construction of its Georgia facility this summer and start vehicle production there in 2024.