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Amazon electric delivery vans focus on driver safety, convenience

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Amazon is designing its upcoming fleet of electric vehicles to streamline delivery while eliminating emissions.

In September 2019, Amazon initially announced that as part of its commitment to reducing carbon, it would order 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from sustainable vehicle manufacturer Rivian. This $440 million investment represents what Amazon says is the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021.

In a new corporate blog post, Amazon is unveiling design details of the electric vans it says will enhance the safety and comfort of drivers while making deliveries more efficient and eliminating 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030. Amazon's transportation team spent 18 months evaluating a variety of electric vehicle options to reduce its carbon footprint, and drivers who currently deliver Amazon packages had input into the vehicle's design and functionality.

Manufactured at Rivian's plant in Normal, Ill., the vans will come in three size variants and support multiple battery sizes so they can be optimized for specific delivery routes. Each vehicle is designed to include a suite of advanced safety technology including automated emergency braking, front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive options, lane keep assist, a pedestrian warning system, traffic design recognition, and an automatic warning system that detects and alerts distracted driver behavior.

The design also includes a digital instrument cluster and central display screen integrated with Amazon's logistics management, along with routing and package delivery technology, to eliminate the need for extra navigation or mapping devices. By integrating Amazon Alexa voice assistant technology, the e-tailer will enable drivers to ask for help or use simple voice commands in the cargo bay when sorting packages without having to manually enter commands or consult handheld devices.

"We're trying to build the most sustainable transportation fleet in the world," said Ross Rachey, director of Amazon's global fleet and products. "It also needs to be the most functional, the highest performing, the safest."

Amazon's new electric delivery vehicles will begin delivering packages to customers in 2021. The company plans to have 10,000 of the vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030, saving what the e-tailer says will be millions of metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.

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