Amazon & Rivian: Electric Vans Are Coming to Life

By Desiree Homer

Amazon just let the world take a sneak peek at its recent Rivian order of all-electric delivery vans. Rivian, the Detroit-based EV designer enticed a visit from Jeff Bezos last year, and subsequently landed an order for 100,000 delivery vans from the online retail giant. Before now, only artist renderings have been available. It’s coming to life, and before we know it, electric delivery vans will be gracing the roadways.

What Makes the Van an Amazon Van?

These Amazon vans are being designed specific to Amazon delivery operations. They will come in three sizes and be compatible with multiple EV battery support, to accommodate the various delivery routes. As you can imagine, they will also be integrated with Alexa technology, with voice assistant logistics management that works in the back of the truck, where drivers sort packages. Drivers will be able to forgo their handheld devices and organize the deliveries by voice command. From the driver’s seat, the delivery personnel will have a central display and instrument cluster completely integrated with Amazon’s logistics systems, catering to routing and delivery.

Built for Safety

Much like the public sector vehicle models, the Rivian vans will house a suite of safety and driver assistance technology. Amazon shared some of the features, like lane-keeping assist, pedestrian warning, and automated emergency braking. The EV delivery mobile will also have traffic design recognition and warnings designed to alert drivers to other distracted drivers on the road. Because terrain and driving conditions will vary by route, the Amazon vans have both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive capabilities, as well.

What Else Is Rivian Doing?


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About as off-road as Manhattan gets.

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Rivian is building two EV models right now, the R1S SUV and the R1T pickup. Rivian Automotive was founded by Robert “R.J.” Scaringe and has some big-name investors. With backing from both Amazon and Ford, these innovative vehicles are expected to launch in 2021. Some are suggesting they will outpace Tesla for market share. The SUV and truck segments are some of the most profitable, and Rivian is looking to deliver capabilities that rival Range Rover, with battery range that far exceeds the current Tesla Model X ranges. As you can imagine, with the ongoing Amazon partnership and investment, the Rivian models will include Alexa voice command technology, too.

UPS Has a Fleet Coming Too

Amazon isn’t the only company looking to electric vehicles as a solution for delivery challenges. UPS announced it too has purchased vehicles, as part of its investment. Soon we will see 10,000 customized vehicles, with a modular design. UPS says their fleet will offer automated movements within their UPS depots and be fitted with advanced driver assistance features.

How Does This Sneak Peek Affect Your Dealership Operations?

You often read the headlines regarding automakers making plays for EV enhancements and technologies. This recent sneak peek means the EV movement is more than a pipe dream and coming to life. The Amazon fleet is being designed for logistics and delivery use, but it may be a sign of vehicle feature transitions to come. All eyes are on Tesla, but it’s equally important to watch for Tesla competitors like Rivian.

Rivian may be a new company, but it will soon have 100,000 Amazon delivery vans on the road. How well the market embraces the concept, may mean your franchise has a serious competitive contender in model years to come.