Amazon made a decision to purchase 100,000 Rivian electric delivery vans for last-mile operations, and the most remarkable thing about this amazing order is that the vans currently do not even exist. Diesel News’ US Correspondent, Steve Sturgess, investigates.
Rivian is a start-up that caught everybody’s interest with the showing of the R1T all-electric full-size ute and R1S, an SUV based on the same platform. Launched at the LA Auto Show in 2018, these are the only vehicles, in prototype form, that actually exist. But Rivian has caught Ford’s attention with the legacy automaker investing $500 million in the company.
This, plus the backing by Saudis and banks allowed the fledgling company to buy a shuttered Mitsubishi plant in Normal, Illinois back in 2017. Showing its canny plan to become an automaker to rival Tesla, the huge car parks surrounding the car plant make money storing diesel Volkswagens that are forbidden on US roads. This revenue stream covers the standing costs of the plant, says Rivian.
The deal with Amazon has also resulted in a $700 million investment by Amazon which sounds like a lot, but for the world’s biggest retailer it’s just walking-around money.
Based on the claims for the ute and SUV, the vans should be highly viable. The two existing vehicles have a claimed range of 400 miles and a 0-60mph performance in the three and a half seconds. They are highly distinctive, a bit homely but the automotive world is waiting for things to get going with these models.
Mack showed a low cab forward class 8 refuse truck at a recent Waste Expo. With an all-Mack battery electric powertrain, the demonstration model will begin real-world testing in 2020 in the demanding operations of the New York City Department of Sanitation (DSNY).
Mack’s integrated electric powertrain consists of two 130-kW motors producing a combined 496 peak hp (370 kW) and a staggering 4,051 lb.-ft. (5,490 Nm) of torque available from zero rpm. Power is sent through a two-speed Mack Powershift transmission and put to the ground by Mack’s proprietary S522R 52,000-lb. rear axles. The Mack LR BEV features a copper-coloured Bulldog hood ornament, signifying that it’s an electric vehicle and distinguishing it from the gold Bulldog which signifies an all-Mack engine and drivetrain or the chrome Bulldog with indicates supplier components.
Volvo has debuted the VNR Electric for drayage operations, initially out of the southern California ports. It is scheduled to go into operation in mid 2020. The introduction of the Volvo VNR Electric models is to be part of an innovative partnership, known as LIGHTS (Low Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions) between the Volvo Group, California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD), and industry leaders in transportation and electrical charging infrastructure.
“The LIGHTS project is a truly unique opportunity to showcase a holistic approach to electrification of the freight transport industry as we handle ongoing challenges including electricity generation and battery optimisation,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president of Volvo Trucks North America.
Peterbilt’s sister division Kenworth is going down a different road with an all-electric powertrain, but with a range-extending fuel cell stack from development partner Toyota. The is Zero-emissions truck that has some emissions, water and nitrogen, both naturally occurring and harmless to the environment.
Which begs the question on the other fuel-cell range extended Nikola One, regional semi conventional Two and Trey cabover for European and other markets. Nikola is pressing forward with some significant changes though did show a working model 2 at the recent Nikola World update.
Nikola recently signed a $16 million order to purchase equipment for the first phase of its fuel cell development laboratory, it announced at the event. The order represents the initial installment in an overall investment plan that totals several hundred million dollars.
“It is critical that we move fast and have the best equipment as part of our truck development process,” said Mark Russell, Nikola Motor Company’s president. “By creating our own facility, Nikola will be able to test and validate its fuel cell components in half the time it would take other OEMs and third-party labs.”
And Tesla? The company has said little publicly since the excitement at the Los Angeles launch back in late 2017. According to reports, there is at least one Tesla semi running between the Reno, Nevada-based Tesla Gigafactory and the car assembly plant in Fremont, California. The 230-mile route was widely predicted to be the first application for the semi.
Tesla creator Elon Musk has been a lot more vocal about the much-anticipated Tesla Pickup, which, if or when it happens, may be a money-maker, since pickups account for more than half the automotive market in America.
Which brings us back to Rivian . . .