That number is growing rapidly. Amazon has been under huge pressure for many years – and billions of dollars – to deliver packages, far from relying on big carriers like UPS. To begin the expansion, Amazon ordered 20,000 diesel sprinter vans from Mercedes-Benz.
Through its network of contractors, Amazon now distributes more than half of its orders globally and more in the United States. Amazon now has six times more delivery depots than in 2017, with at least 50 percent more new features to be launched this year, according to data from MWPVL, a logistics consultancy.
That logistics boom, driven by the epidemic of online shopping, multiplies the challenges the company faces in fulfilling its climate mitigation pledge. Its pledge to make half of its deliveries carbon-neutral by 2030 is part of the company’s broader commitment to become net-carbon-neutral by 2040.
“Electrification of their delivery fleet is a really important part of the strategy,” said Ann Goodchild, who leads the work at the University of Washington’s supply chain, logistics and freight transportation.
Delivery vans are well suited for electric propulsion as they typically travel 100 miles or less a day, which means they don’t need large battery packs which adds to the cost of the electric car. Delivery trucks are mostly used during the day and can be recharged overnight, and generally require less maintenance than gasoline trucks. Electric vehicles do not have transmissions and some other mechanical components that move quickly in heavy stop-and-go, usually on the delivery route.
In September 2019, when Mr. Bezos announced Amazon’s huge revision order – the largest ever order of electric vehicles – at the heart of Amazon’s commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. At the time, he said he expected 100,000 vans to hit the road “by 2024”.
Amazon has invested at least 3 1.3 billion in Revion, which Amazon says will make 10,000 vans earlier this year. Amazon also revoked the exclusive rights to Rivian’s commercial van for four years, with the right of first refusal for two years thereafter. Companies have been testing the van for almost a year.