Amazon’s going all-electric – so what can you do to follow suit?

Amazon’s going all-electric – so what can you do to follow suit?
Martin Brown

Posted by

Martin Brown

September 2019

As the MD of a growing fleet management company I think I might have given myself more than just a mini fist pump when an order landed for 100,000 electric vans. From Amazon.

I think I’d be loudly popping a bottle of champagne while quietly mulling the delivery logistics of such a huge order.

But that’s the case: the huge online marketplace has decided to move on air quality and go for an ambitious decarbonisation programme.

It has signed The Climate Pledge, which calls on signatories to be net zero carbon across their businesses by 2040 – a decade ahead of the goal set by the Paris Agreement signed by 195 countries in 2015.

(The Paris Agreement, by the way, sets out a global action plan to limit global warming to well below 2°C to avoid dangerous climate change.)

“We’re done being in the middle of the herd on this issue — we’ve decided to use our size and scale to make a difference,” commented Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and CEO, at a press conference to announce it last week.

“If a company with as much physical infrastructure as Amazon — which delivers more than 10 billion items a year — can meet the Paris Agreement 10 years early, then any company can.”

As part of this Climate Pledge, Amazon has placed an order for 100,000 electric vans with Rivian, a US-based EV specialist. Quite some order for a company which has yet to produce a production series vehicle. An impression of the van – with its headlamps reminiscent of the Honda e supermini EV – has been shown (pictured).

Still, Rivian has some serious backing and investment – including Amazon, as well as Ford. And its planned vehicles, which include the RT1 pick up truck, look absolutely fantastic. So I wish them well.

And I applaud Amazon and its lofty ambition. Which, interestingly, puts the American company deeply at odds with its President, who has withdrawn the United States from the Paris Agreement…

Nevertheless, while some electric options are available to commercial vehicle fleets, I’d be the first to say it’s not an easy task to move vans so quickly to zero emission. Amazon plans to have its first Rivian electric vans delivering by 2021.

But other technologies exist to help reduce carbon emissions if your fleet can’t order a vast fleet of EV vans from Rivian.

I expect Ford’s Transit Custom PHEV to play a significant part. The market leader in the LCV sector will launch its range-extender Transit Custom PHEV soon, which has a range of about 30 miles on its battery for zero emission delivery capability.

Then there’s UK-based Tevva Motors which has produced hybrid vans for delivery firm UPS. These feature a range extender so that the vans can have an effective range of 248 miles to travel between depots. However the vans are geofenced to ensure they will only run on zero emission battery power in cities. The vans have an urban zero emission in excess of 60 miles.

There are currently 15 of these UPS vans operating in Southampton and Birmingham.

I think what’s important here is that, whether you have a fleet of 10 vans or an Amazon with the muscle to order 100,000 electric vans, there are more and more solutions to reduce the CO2 emissions of your commercial vehicle fleet.

If fleets in the UK can match the ambition of Jeff Bezos then, collectively, we will have done much to meet the issues of climate change.


Would you like to go green?


On a more parochial level, we have been moving the Fleet Alliance Group further and further towards electrification where possible, both for the fleets we manage, the individuals to whom we lease vehicles, and our own company fleet.

For example, if you are considering a personal lease of an electric or hybrid car, the Fleet Alliance Group brand Intelligent Car Leasing has recently launched a new electric car lease section on its website. As well as the latest offers there are some helpful guides and frequently asked questions.

For fleet managers looking to transition to ultra-low emission and zero emission vehicles, we have produced an easy-to-reference white paper on taking your fleet electric. This sets out the benefits of going electric and the steps your fleet needs to consider prior to electrification.

Such moves are reflected within our own company fleet, which is now 23% electric or plug-in hybrid electric. And the percentage is due to grow rapidly as renewals come through.

So if you would like to go green, please contact us: we can help you make that green transition.

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