Amazon begins road testing Rivian electric delivery vans in San Francisco

Amazon’s new delivery van

Amazon is now testing its electric delivery vans in San Francisco, the company announced Thursday.

It’s the latest expansion in California of Amazon’s custom electric vehicles developed in partnership with start-up Rivian Automotive, which has raised about $8 billion since 2019 from investors. Amazon announced last month it had begun testing electric delivery vans in Los Angeles. The company plans to expand the program to 14 more cities this year.

Amazon said it selected San Francisco as one of the initial cities to test electric vans from Rivian because of its “great customers, unique terrain and climate.” Deliveries will initially be conducted out of Amazon’s delivery station in the San Francisco suburb of Richmond, but Amazon expects to start deliveries from other Bay Area sites soon.

“From what we’ve seen, this is one of the fastest modern commercial electrification programs, and we’re incredibly proud of that,” Amazon global fleet and products director Ross Rachey said in a statement. “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.”

Amazon, which has backed Rivian via its $2 billion Climate Pledge Fund, agreed in September 2019 to purchase 100,000 electric vehicles from the start-up as part of its ambitious push to make Amazon’s fleet run entirely on renewable energy. Each van has a range of 150 miles per charge.

Since then, Amazon said, it has been operating thousands of electric vehicles worldwide. In 2020, it said it delivered more than 20 million packages using electric delivery vehicles across North America and Europe.

To make the shift to electric vehicles, Amazon has redesigned its delivery stations, adding thousands of electric vehicle chargers. For now, Amazon said, the vehicles are being driven by Amazon employees who are specially trained to operate them.

Amazon unveiled a version of the electric delivery vans last fall. They feature a boxier design, the familiar Prime branding and upgraded safety features like an advanced driver assist system and exterior cameras that give the driver a 360-degree view outside the vehicle.

Amazon is still refining the design of its electric delivery vans before the start of production, which Rivian plans for the fourth quarter of this year.