Photo by Dinendra Haria /
Amazon’s $700 million investment in electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian in February 2019 and an agreement to buy 100,000 of its delivery vehicles is bearing fruit: on February 3, the vehicles began being rolled out in Los Angeles, and on March 18, in San Francisco, a greater challenge given its many hills.
The rollout is expected to take place in another 15 cities over the course of 2021, with many tens of thousands of vehicles added over the next few years. With a range of about 240 kilometers per charge, their use could lead to a significant reduction in the carbon footprint of an activity, that of goods delivery, which thanks to the pandemic looks set to increase.
Amazon’s initiative is in line with its Climate Pledge, a commitment to achieve zero emissions across its entire value chain by 2040, 10 years ahead of the date set in the Paris Agreements. But should we have to rely on private initiatives to achieve goals that should be our highest priorities, particularly for the residents of large cities? Shouldn’t city halls be rolling out these kinds of initiatives?
What percentage of emissions in a large city come from delivery vehicles and public transport? London, for example, decided in 2016 that all cabs and private hire vehicles would have to be zero-emission by 2033, and proceeded to redesign its iconic black cabs to be electric and manufactured in the United Kingdom, as well as deploying charging infrastructure in cities.
The time has come to consider not only speeding up these commitments for cabs and private hire vehicles, but also extending them to delivery vehicles. This may involve businesses making some changes, but they would son provide an economic return if we take into account the lower total cost of electric vehicles due to lower maintenance and the much lower cost of electricity compared to fossil fuels such as diesel or gasoline, a cost that is also expected to continue to fall as renewable energies take on a bigger role in electricity generation.
As the supply of electric vehicles increases, they are increasingly being used for passenger transport and goods deliveries, especially considering that the amortization of the initial acquisition cost takes place over a more intensive activity cycle. The possibility of providing incentives for fleet renewal or electricity subsidies for certain uses would also make it possible to visualize the possibility of a rapid transition, with all that this could entail in terms of reducing emissions in cities.
If ever there was a time to take a proactive approach to speed up the adoption of electric vehicles, this is it. Let’s see if we are up to the task.
Teaching Innovation at IE Business School since 1990, and now, hacking education as Senior Advisor for Digital Transformation at IE University. BSc (Universidade de