Amazon rolls out electric delivery vans in Bay Area

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is bringing a pilot of custom electric delivery vehicles to a new market, with an eye toward rapid expansion.

Following the February 2021 debut of electric vans Amazon designed and built in partnership with manufacturer Rivian on delivery routes in Los Angeles, the e-tail giant has begun testing the new vans on delivery routes in the Bay Area.

San Francisco is one of 16 cities where Amazon will be using the Rivian electric vehicles for customer deliveries in 2021. According to Amazon, it selected San Francisco because of its customer base, terrain and climate.

The company plans to have a full fleet of 100,000 electric delivery vans operational by 2030 as part of its Climate Pledge to be net zero carbon across its entire business by 2040.

Initially unveiled in October 2020, the vans can drive up to 150 miles on a single charge and are optimized for safety and an enhanced driver experience. The vehicles are currently being driven by Amazon employees who are specially trained to operate the vehicle. 

Deliveries will initially be conducted from Amazon’s delivery station in Richmond, Calif., and the retailer plans to launch deliveries from other sites in the Bay Area soon. Amazon also recently made a $200 million purchase of a of a site for a new delivery station in San Francisco, located at 900 7th Street. Amazon says this facility will create hundreds of full- and part-time jobs in the city and help speed up deliveries for customers in the Bay Area.

Custom safety, navigation and design features include:

• Exterior cameras around the vehicle that are linked to a digital display inside the cabin, giving the driver a 360-degree view outside the vehicle.
• Alexa integration for hands-free access to route information and the latest weather updates.
• A strengthened door on the driver’s side for additional protection.
• A “dancefloor” inside the driver’s cabin for easy movement inside the van.
• Bright tail lights surrounding the rear of the vehicle to more easily detect braking.
• Three levels of shelving with a bulkhead door, which can be opened and closed for additional driver protection while on the road.

“From what we've seen, this is one of the fastest modern commercial electrification programs, and we’re incredibly proud of that,” said Ross Rachey, director of Amazon's global fleet and products. “As we continue to grow and invest in California, we want to do so responsibly, so we’re excited for customers in the Bay Area to see these vehicles cruising through their neighborhood.”