Editors note: An earlier version of this article misstated the number of vehicles related to the amount of carbon dioxide prevented from entering the atmosphere.
The pressure on Rivian to nail the engineering, manufacturing and quality of its electric vehicles just got amped up – way up – with the news Thursday morning that Amazon has placed an order for 100,000 delivery vehicles from the suburban Detroit startup.
Rivian spokeswoman Amy Mast said the first Amazon delivery vehicles are expected to be on the road in 2021. She said work on developing a delivery vehicle based on Rivian's battery-electric powertrain and chassis has been underway for some time.
The vehicle – most likely a van — would use the same basic architecture and power electronics planned for the R1T electric pickup and the R1S electric SUV. But Mast said it will have a redesigned suspension system, a different interior and Amazon-specific application software.
Rivian has not built or sold its first vehicle yet, but the Plymouth, Mich.,startup is backed by at least $1.5 billion in recent investments from Amazon, Ford Motor Co. and Cox Automotive. Rivian is retooling the former Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Ill,. and expects to start production of the pickup and SUV next year.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, at a press event in Washington on Thursday, said the Rivian order would help the giant online retailer meets its pledge to become net carbon neutral by 2040. Amazon's current delivery fleet uses internal combustion engines.
Mast said Rivian's goal is to have 10,000 of the electric delivery vehicles on the road by 2022. When all 100,000 vehicles are on the road it would prevent 4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.