It's built by a familiar automaker.
Back in 2019, Amazon announced plans to purchase 100,000 electric vans from Rivian. Having seen what the van looks like as a miniaturized model, Rivan has now revealed a running, driving life-size one. At first glance, it looks like a pretty typical van but this new model is completely custom and packs a ton of unique features. Amazon will deploy three different van sizes, each catered to different geographic locations. A smaller van, for example, will drive in tight urban environments with larger sizes reserved for rural areas with more space.
Each van size receives powertrain and battery configurations, with some sending the drive to the front wheels and others (in colder climates) sending power to all-wheel-drive. Range estimates are currently unknown, but the 2021 Rivian R1S SUV is expected to travel anywhere from 240 to 410 miles on a single charge. This van is less aerodynamic than an SUV, which will hurt range, but its added size might also allow for larger batteries with greater capacity.
Aside from its all-electric powertrains, the Amazon van has other innovative details. The windshield, for example, extends further down than in most vans to provide greater frontward visibility while 360-degree cameras increase visibility further. Those cameras combine with sensors to provide traffic assistance features to improve driver safety and reduce stress.
Safety is a crucial component of how this van is built, with elements like an elongated taillight bar making it more visible to other road users. Furthermore, the driver's door is reinforced, and a bulkhead door can seal off the cargo area.
Amazon describes the interior as a "dance floor" because it's flat and easier to negotiate. The driver enjoys a pretty minimalist but futuristic cabin with two large screens. To eliminate the distraction of interacting with the touchscreen, Amazon Alexa acts as a copilot to give weather updates, route information, and more. In the storage area, three levels of shelving house different sized packages.
These vans won't hit the roads anytime in the near future, but Amazon says it plans to have 10,000 of them in service by 2022. Amazon has also invested in Rivian, which plans to have its own electric truck and SUV on the market by 2021.