Amazon’s Jeff Bezos walks the walk when it comes to climate action.
The Amazon founder and CEO has pledged to move Amazon closer to net-zero carbon operations. Monday, as part of that commitment, Amazon placed an order with Rivian, the Plymouth, Michigan-based electric vehicle manufacturer, for 100,000 electric delivery vans.
This is one of the largest green vehicle orders in history and the single largest electric delivery van order ever. To try and put this order’s size into perspective, Mercedes-Benz sells about 30,000 Sprinter vans of the type Amazon uses per year in the U.S. Rivian has effectively become a major player in the commercial van business overnight.
This van order is just a small part of Amazon’s overall climate action plan.
“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” said Bezos. “If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon — which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can. I’ve been talking with other CEOs of global companies, and I’m finding a lot of interest in joining the pledge. Large companies signing The Climate Pledge will send an important signal to the market that it’s time to invest in the products and services the signatories will need to meet their commitments.”
Rivian is a relatively new company but has been receiving hundreds of million dollars in investment funding from multiple players in mobility, including Amazon. Ford recently partnered up with Rivian to build trucks on the company’s flexible EV platform. Cox Automotive is another investor.
The timeline for the new electric delivery vans is aggressive but seems realistic. Amazon and Rivian say the new EV vans will start to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to roll out 10,000 of the new electric vehicles as early as 2022 and is shooting to have all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030. The company says this new delivery van project will save 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.
Although Amazon’s delivery vans are a visible part of its business, the company’s green commitments go beyond final delivery. Amazon is has pledged to reach 100% renewable energy by 2030 on its path to net-zero carbon by 2040. Thus far, Amazon has launched 15 utility-scale wind and solar renewable energy projects that, when completed, will generate over 1,300 MW of renewable capacity and deliver more than 3.8 million MWh of clean energy annually — enough to power a small city. Amazon has installed more than 50 solar rooftops on its massive fulfillment centers and sorting centers which now generate 98 MW of renewable capacity and deliver 130,000 MWh of clean energy annually. Amazon is also committing $100 million to restore and protect forests, wetlands, and peatlands around the world in partnership with The Nature Conservancy as part of the Right Now Climate Fund.
Private owners have slowed their rate of adoption of electric vehicles in recent months. Both July and August saw fewer electric vehicles sold in the U.S. and in China than in 2018. As the maturity of the consumer-facing EV options continues to unfold, huge gains in electric vehicles are possible on the commercial and governmental fleet side of transportation.
Perhaps the U.S. Postal Service will take note of Amazon’s new green delivery vehicle initiative and follow suit. Imagine corporations leading the way in the green mobility shift, rather than grudgingly keeping pace with federal and state mandates.