The ubiquitous white boxy U.S. Postal Service mail trucks have long been a common sight on our streets, followed by the cavernous brown UPS vans. Now, silver-hued Amazon delivery vans are an increasingly familiar presence in our neighborhoods. Soon, more of those vans, many of which are manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, will be all-electric — at least on one side of the pond.
Amazon recently announced that it would order 1,800 electric vehicles (EVs) manufactured by Mercedes-Benz Vans for use in its European fleet. The zero-emission vans will start making deliveries within Europe as soon as this year. Over 1,200 of the vans will be Mercedes-Benz eSprinters. When the automaker unveiled the eSprinter last year, it said the van features a range of over 90 miles on a full charge and payload approaching 2,000 pounds, specs well-suited for Amazon’s urban and suburban delivery routes.
The remainder of the all-electric vans joining Amazon’s delivery fleet — or, to be exact, joining those of its delivery partners — will be eVito models. This Mercedes-Benz mid-size van is more of a better fit for densely populated areas; it also has an impressive range with a reported 200-plus miles fully charged.
Policymakers are certainly cheered by this alliance. “Amazon’s investment is a strong and concrete sign of its commitment and alignment to EU priorities,” said Fabio Massimo Castaldo, one of the European Parliament’s vice presidents, in a public statement. “Amazon continues to contribute to the achievement of the EU Green Deal goals, foster technological innovation and generate resilient and sustainable jobs in Europe. I hope that other corporations will follow Amazon’s example in the near future.”
This acquisition builds on what Amazon says is its long-term commitment to electric vehicles. Last fall, the company announced a massive procurement from the EV startup Rivian, to the tune of 100,000 all-electric vehicles that the company said could start making the rounds next year. As of this spring, those plans are still on track, but Amazon’s deal with Mercedes-Benz shows the technology and delivery giant is taking zero chances on its plan to reduce its fleets’ emissions.
This relationship also gives both companies street cred about their sustainability commitments. Last year, Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos, launched The Climate Pledge, a global private-sector effort to reach the goals of the Paris Accords 10 years early, by 2040. Mercedes-Benz just hopped on this corporate sustainability bandwagon, announcing its alignment the same day the companies announced their EV commitment. Amazon has faced its fair share of criticism from both within and outside its ranks; additional commitments like this one are a way to score the company more buy-in from the sustainerati.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s competitors on the logistics side are blazing their own paths into the world of all-electric vehicles. For example, UPS has been working with the EV startup Arrival to develop emissions-free trucks. And despite all its challenges, the U.S. Postal Service is exploring options for electric vans and trucks as well. Fedex has its standard response – the company is often quick to note that EVs have been a part of the logistic giant’s fleet since 2009.
Image credit: Business Wire
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.