Amazon's gargantuan fleet order of 100,000 electric delivery vans from Michigan-based startup Rivian will no doubt turbo-boost adoption of electric commercial vehicles.
But the move, announced in September, simultaneously will amp up another fledgling business — the fleet-charging infrastructure industry.
To power its planned battalion of battery-powered vehicles, Amazon likely will need to plow a hefty investment into vehicle chargers, electricity infrastructure upgrades and new charging technologies wherever those vans will travel.
The scale of Amazon's fleet electrification project is a "game changer," Mark Kerstens, vice president of global fleet solutions at EV charging network ChargePoint, told Automotive News.
"It will help drive costs out of the system and accelerate learnings around how to develop, operate and scale EV charging networks for commercial fleets," Kerstens said.
As it builds its EV network across the country, Amazon will have to collaborate with the hodgepodge of utilities. Once utilities figure out how to handle commercial vehicle charging at the scale of Amazon's project, they can pass that learning on to other EV fleet customers, said Sam Abuelsamid, analyst with Navigant Research.
Amazon's fleet electrification also will drive demand for charging infrastructure, delivering economies of scale and lowering costs for equipment manufacturers. The demand also invariably will attract new operators into the fleet-charging business and drive innovation in charging technologies, Abuelsamid said.