Currently reading: Amazon orders 100,000 electric vans from start-up Rivian
Fledging electric firm gets major boost with huge order from internet giant

Internet shopping giant Amazon has given a further boost to EV start-up Rivian by placing an order with the company for 100,000 electric delivery vehicles.

The fledging manufacturer is aiming to produce a range of go-anywhere 4x4 EVs built on its own bespoke platform, showcasing the R1 SUV and R1T pick-up at last year’s Los Angeles motor show.

Rivian has attracted high profile investments from firms including Ford, with which it is working on future vehicle development, and Amazon.

Opinion: will Amazon's electric van order disrupt the car industry?

The internet retailer invested $440 million (£350 million) to lead a $700 million (£544 million) investment round in Rivian earlier this year, and has now furthered those links with the massive order, which it says is the largest ever made in an electric delivery vehicle.

Amazon says that the first Rivan-built vans will go into service in 2021, with the plan to have 10,000 on the road by 2022 and all 100,000 in operation by 2030.

The order was announced by Amazon as it unveiled the Climate Pledge, calling on signatories to reach net zero carbon by 2040, 10 years ahead of the targets set by the Paris Accord. Amazon said that the investment and vehicle order in Rivian would “accelerate the production of electric vehicles critical to reducing emissions from transportation".

While no details of the technical specifications of the van, preview images released by Amazon showed it badged with the firm’s Prime delivery service, and ‘powered by Rivian’ on the side sill. That suggests they could be made on Rivian’s bespoke EV platform to a body design specified by Amazon.

The retailer has long been looking for ways to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of its delivery operation, particularly in terms of ‘last mile’ deliveries to customers in cities. Switching to electric vans would both cut fuel costs and ensure Amazon vehicles were not affected by low emissions zones increasingly being established in cities.

There is no indication where the vans will be deployed, although they are likely to focus on major cities in the USA.

The order is a huge boost to Rivian as it gears up to start production at a plant in Illinois, in a facility previously used by Mitsubishi. The plant has a capacity to produce 350,000 units per year, with Rivian’s initial goal to sell 50,000-60,000 of its premium electric off-roaders per year by 2025.

With an increasing focus on car pollution in cities, and the costs of fuelling large van fleets, an increasing number of car firms are developing electric vans. Nissan has the Nissan e-NV200, Vauxhall is developing an electric Vivaro, and Mercedes-Benz is working on a new version of its e-Vito. Volkswagen is also planning a cargo version of its ID Buzz concept.

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James Attwood

James Attwood, digital editor
Title: Acting magazine editor

James is Autocar's acting magazine editor. Having served in that role since June 2023, he is in charge of the day-to-day running of the world's oldest car magazine, and regularly interviews some of the biggest names in the industry to secure news and features, such as his world exclusive look into production of Volkswagen currywurst. Really.

Before first joining Autocar in 2017, James spent more than a decade in motorsport journalist, working on Autosport,, F1 Racing and Motorsport News, covering everything from club rallying to top-level international events. He also spent 18 months running Move Electric, Haymarket's e-mobility title, where he developed knowledge of the e-bike and e-scooter markets. 

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MrJ 28 September 2019

Good looker with a nod

Good looker with a nod towards Honda, but that's OK, as the simple design works better.

It makes the Transit range look fussy and overstyled.

TheDriver 20 September 2019

Rivian prospects

I’m pleased to hear this news because of the implications for Rivian. This is a visionary brand that intends to introduce an SUV and pickup with specifications that seem almost too good to be true, and I hope it’s not all hype. Certainly the claimed off-roading features and potential range are mouth-watering. Aside from all the environmental issues and concerns over Amazon’s business model, I applaud Rivian’s philosophy and hope that major financial backing from Amazon and Ford underpins their chances of success. Widening their product base to include vans can only help.

Harry P 20 September 2019

Sooner the better

It would be great if our local milkman could go back to an electric vehicle. When he comes around at 4am on a Saturday morning in his rattily diesel, it never fails to wake up the dog, which then wakes me up.! The sooner we have viable electric commercial vehicles, the better for the environment and my sleep!