Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has announced a far-reaching plan to reduce his company’s environmental footprint. Amazon’s “Climate Pledge” calls for the retail behemoth to zero out its carbon emissions by 2030. Bezos also challenged other companies to join Amazon in meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years ahead of schedule.
As part of the plan, Amazon has agreed to buy 100,000 electric delivery vans from EV startup Rivian. Bezos said the first EVs will be on the road by 2021, and hopes to deploy all 100,000 vehicles by 2024. Amazon led a $700-million investment round for Rivian in February, and has invested some $440 million in the company to date.
Bezos’s dramatic announcement was a bit of a surprise, as Rivian has not previously announced any plans to build commercial EVs. Rivian has turned heads in the EV world with compelling prototypes of an electric pickup truck and SUV, which it plans to bring to production late next year. Bezos did not offer any details of the deal.
Amazon may be getting into the electrification game a bit late – other delivery giants such as UPS have been testing EVs for years – but it’s jumping right into the deep end. The company’s order of 100,000 vehicles apparently represents the largest single order of EVs in history (although in China, orders of electric buses in the thousands are not unusual), and it’s interesting that Bezos doesn’t seem to see the need for the years-long pilots that other companies insist on. It will be a challenge for a startup manufacturer to deliver that many vehicles in the specified timeframe, but at least capital doesn’t seem to be a problem.
“We want to use our scale and our scope to lead the way,” Bezos said in his announcement at the National Press Club. “One of the things we know about Amazon as a role model for this is that it’s a difficult challenge for us because we have deep, large physical infrastructure. So, if we can do this, anyone can do this.”