Made in Illinois, helping the globe: Amazon delivery vans go electric


CHICAGO — Amazon, one of the world’s largest corporations, is taking bold steps to combat climate change in Chicago. 

The company unveiled a new fleet of electric vehicles in the city’s Pullman neighborhood Thursday with a promise to reduce the it’s giant carbon footprint.  

The delivery vans are made by Rivian, a company known as the “Tesla of trucks.”

The CEO of automaker Rivian, R.J. Scaringe, joined Amazon executives to announce a collaboration meant to help the climate.  

 “This is the first real step that demonstrates our progress,” Amazon’s Vice President of Transportation Udit Madan said. “And getting thousands of these electric vehicles on the road by the end of this year is going to have a dramatic impact on communities around the U.S.”

The vehicles are debuting in a dozen cities including Baltimore, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Tennessee, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle, St. Louis and Chicago.  

Amazon’s goal is to have 100,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2030. That’s an ambitious goal, especially since Rivian has faced pandemic-related problems from the supply chain to the manufacturing line while trying to ramp up production.  

“We’re building them as fast as we can,” Scaringe said.

Amazon’s goal is to be net carbon neutral by 2040.  

 “We took a really ambitious goal in 2019 to get to net zero carbon in 2040 – ten years ahead of the Paris agreement,” Madan said. “Our transportation network is a large part of making that possible.”

Amazon delivery driver 29-year-old Darin Watkins delivers packages to 185 locations every day. He is one of thousands of delivery drivers who, up until Thursday, were burning fossil fuels.  

 “There are so many vehicles on the road and to see a company who’s focused on making a difference in the zero emissions, it means a lot,” he said.

Amazon’s Illinois operations include 20 fulfillment centers and 20 delivery stations.  

The Rivian trucks are manufactured in Normal, Illinois.  

As for why they chose Illinois, Scaringe said, “We found that location when we were looking for different locations for plants – and we found an old Mitsubishi plant.” 

The vehicles have oversized windshield for better vision, use LED light, and can go 150 miles before needing a charge.  

“These vehicles are designed to be charged at the start or end of every shift,” Scaringe said.

To support this new fleet of electric delivery vans, Amazon has added thousands of charging stations at delivery depots across the country.

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