May 7, 2024 - Business

Meet Amazon's newest electric trucks

Amazon's new Volvo-made electric heavy-duty truck.

Amazon's new Volvo-made electric heavy-duty truck. Photo courtesy of Amazon

Amazon is deploying nearly 50 new heavy-duty electric trucks across Southern California to haul shipments and customer packages.

Why it matters: It's part of the company's ambitious goal of going carbon-neutral by 2040 — and a major test of big electric trucks' capabilities.

Driving the news: Amazon is using Volvo Class 8 VNR electric trucks at both the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for what's called "drayage" — industry-speak for transporting shipping containers — as well as to carry packages between Amazon facilities.

  • The drayage trucks will deliver containers to an Amazon facility in Santa Fe Springs, California, about 20-25 miles from either port.

Zoom in: The trucks have a fully-loaded range of 275 miles, modern ergonomics, and high-tech safety and driver-assist features.

  • J.B. Hunt is operating the trucks, while freight electrification startup Forum Mobility is handling the charging at the ports.
  • Amazon has also installed more than 45 DC fast chargers at 11 sites across the area to support its heavy-duty EV fleet.

Between the lines: The trucks — along with Amazon's Rivian-made electric delivery vans — are big road-going symbols of the company's electrification effort.

  • The retail behemoth expects the Volvo trucks to travel more than 1 million emissions-free miles annually.

The intrigue: It's notable that Amazon went with Volvo's trucks as opposed to the Tesla Semi, which launched to great fanfare in 2022 but hasn't made a dent in the big-rig market.

What they're saying: "When we were looking through different providers, Volvo came to the top for us," says Adam Baker, Amazon vice president of NA/EU transportation and global mile.

  • "They built a great vehicle for us. The drivers are already saying that the ergonomics on this are just phenomenal — things like being easier on their knees, which is a big deal."
  • "But also the electronics inside of it are quite impressive, with adaptive cruise control, lane assist, active collision avoidance, and then just the incredible quietness of these vehicles compared to their counterparts."

How it works: Rather than charge up the drayage trucks to 100% every time, Amazon plans to get them to 80% to keep them running more often, Baker says.

  • "During the day, we're expecting them to be able to make two or three trips from the port, which is about what we do with our regular vehicles. Then that gives us the evening to get them all the way back up to 100%."

The bottom line: A few dozen trucks is a pretty small slice of Amazon's massive global shipping footprint — but it's a start.

Go deeper: A wave of electric truck charging depots are plugging into California

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that it is from the Volvo trucks alone that Amazon expects 1 million emissions-free miles of annual travel (not from the Volvo trucks plus the Rivian vans).

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