Amazon and Rivian’s electric delivery vans place focus on drivers

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Amazon tasked Rivian with a big job last year: design and manufacture a next-generation electric delivery van. While the main goal is to take tailpipe emissions out of the equation, the online retail giant hasn’t forgotten about the people who actually drive the vehicles for a living.

On Sunday, Amazon released more details on how it’s put drivers in the forefront of the development process. Truly, the company gave drivers pretty incredible access to the prototype vans to shape them for the greater good.

Rivian and Amazon decided to approach the entire process backwards. With drivers along for the ride, engineers looked at how they enter the vehicle, ergonomics while driving, the action of looking for a specific package and how to exit the EV delivery van.

So far, the development program included driver input to reshape armrests, include a larger windshield for greater visibility and a slew of active safety gear. Amazon drivers were recently given a virtual reality headset to have a look at how the final product has thus far shaped up — and the impression were mighty positive, according to both Amazon and Rivian.

Technology will be a huge part of the new van as well. Alexa will, obviously, be built right in and will keep drivers from entering much information manually. Rivian previously said the vans will also boast a totally digital dashboard and the center stack’s screen will house Amazon logistics. Both the logistics program and Alexa will handle mapping, which does away with the need for drivers to carry other devices for navigation.

While the vans will be a mighty big improvement for Amazon and its drivers, the retailer’s overall goal is to meet Paris Climate Accord goals 10 years earlier than agreed to. The first of the electric vans will hit the road next year, while a total of 100,000 will zip around by the end of this decade. For Rivian, it’s just the kind of credibility an EV startup needs, especially as it prepares to launch its first consumer vehicle, the R1T electric pickup.


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