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05/19/2021

Amazon invests in electric vertical aircraft start-up

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon’s latest climate-friendly investment is in a builder of electric vertical aircraft.

The e-tail titan is making an unspecified investment in Beta Technologies, which develops electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (eVTOL). Beta’s Alia eVTOL can carry 1,500 pounds of cargo (about three cargo pallets) or up to six people with zero operational emissions. It has a range of 250 nautical miles.

This marks the latest investment from Amazon’s $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, which the retailer launched in June 2020 to support the development of sustainable technologies and services. Amazon hopes the fund will enable it and other companies to meet The Climate Pledge, a commitment to be net-zero carbon by 2040. 

"We support Beta Technologies' mission to reshape air transportation through zero-emission aviation and are proud to invest in them through Amazon's $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund," said Kara Hurst, VP and head of worldwide sustainability at Amazon. "The development of sustainable and decarbonizing technologies will help facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and protect the planet for future generations."

Amazon has previously funded electric vehicle development. In March 2020, the company invested $440 million in zero-emissions electric delivery van manufacturer Rivian.

In April, Beta said it would sell 10 of its Alia-250 EVAs to United Parcel Service, with an option for an additional 140. UPS plans to test the aircraft for its express delivery in small and medium markets.

"Beta is focused on transforming aviation and finding a solution to help companies reach zero emissions within the next 20 years," said Kyle Clark, founder and CEO of Beta Technologies. "We're pleased with progress on our zero-operational-emission electric aircraft and the ecosystem we're building to support it. It's gratifying to have Amazon's confidence as we work to enable sustainable cargo transportation.”