Why Amazon Delivery Drivers Are Loving Their New Electric Delivery Vans

Amazon has been testing out its new electric delivery vans made by Rivian, and lucky drivers are loving features like added lighting, heated steering wheels, and better navigation.

By Jennifer Hollohan | Updated

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One reason Amazon has been so successful over the years is its ability to adjust on a dime. The company is not only on the cutting edge but in some areas, it creates that edge. An example of the latter is when news broke in 2019 that Amazon would partner with Rivian, ordering 100,000 electric delivery vans. 

At the time, Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s plans to have the entire fleet on the road by 2024. But thanks to significant production issues on the part of Rivian, the timeline got adjusted. Now, there are only about 1,000 electric delivery vans in service. 

The remainder will slowly trickle onto the road in advance of a new deadline of 2030. Amazon took this step as part of its goal to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. The company hopes to achieve this lofty goal by 2040.

So, if the goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, partly through using electric delivery vans, what do drivers think of the Rivian vans so far? CNBC spoke with a sampling of drivers from the nearly 100 cities with electric delivery vans already deployed. And their thoughts were fascinating.

Some drivers expressed interest in the fact that their new rides are EVs. But many were skeptical about the vehicles’ range given the heavy loads each carries. But, “An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC the vans can travel up to 150 miles on a single charge, which is typically plenty of power for a full shift and allows drivers to recharge the vehicle overnight.”

The good news is that with the main concern off the table, drivers can focus on the features of the Rivian vans. And those features are not only good, but they are also state of the art. Amazon partnered with Rivian to ensure the design met many drivers’ requests.

On the surface, there are countless things to like about the new electric delivery vans. Each van has many handles. So drivers have plenty of options when they climb in and out of their vehicles during their shifts. 

And the non-slip surface on the back step is perfect for inclement weather. Throw in a heating steering wheel for comfort, and life is good. However, one of the favorite new features is the improvements within the cargo area itself. 

“The Rivian vans have at least 100 more cubic feet than the Sprinter and up to double the cargo space of the Ford Transit vans,” also used by Amazon drivers. And the Rivian electric delivery vans have the bonus of extra shelving and overhead lighting. So, not only do drivers have extra room to move around, but they can see what they are doing better.

Additionally, the vans have added safety features, such as interior and exterior cameras. The improvements have already reduced the accident rate by 50 percent. And the keyless entry automatically locks and unlocks the doors, which is great news for rushed drivers.

But the best news for Amazon drivers is that the new electric delivery vans have optimized routing software. “The company has been adding a huge amount of detail to driver maps, using information from 16 third-party map vendors as well as machine learning models informed by satellite driver feedback and other sources.” That effort resulted in improved map functionality and easier-to-navigate routes, so what’s not to love?