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Amazon orders 100K electric delivery trucks from Rivian (techcrunch.com)
506 points by prostoalex on Sept 19, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 270 comments

Honestly this is a good move, I just have a quick question:

Does anyone anywhere have video footage of a Rivian actually being driven? Like, not in a commercial, someone genuinely driving it. I just want to know if they are anywhere close to having a production vehicle. If they have a single production vehicle that does what they say, then OK they "just" have to figure out scaling up the manufacturing.

If they don't have a single vehicle, they are years and years away, to the point that Tesla truck may beat them to mass market.

They have great marketing though.

The Tesla truck will almost certainly beat them to mass market. Look how long it took Tesla to scale up production -- the Model S shipped in 2013. It wasn't until 2018 that Tesla built their 200,000th vehicle. Rivian hasn't yet shipped a single truck to customers; they're in for a long and difficult road ahead building out their production lines.

All that said I do hope Rivian is successful. I would absolutely buy an electric pickup truck.

Ford may come before Tesla. They have a much more developed assembly process. https://electrek.co/2019/09/02/fordl-electric-f150-market-20...

Tesla took so long for production because Charlatan-In-Chief didn't want to use any of the lessons learned about Auto Manufacturing the past 100 years and decided to do it his way.

Charlatan-In-Chief also assumed he knows more about A.I and Robotics than many who warned him about his 'Alien Dreadnought' vision.

Rest assured people who are focused on building mass cars won't have the same hubris

Charlatan-in-Chief is putting spacecraft into orbit and yet here you are in an internet forum posting a barely-reasoned critique of his work?

Let alone that it lands...

If there's one thing I love about people calling Musk a 'charlatan' who build his company on 'government subsidies' and 'fairytales' it is that you can just reply with a video of a double 80m orbital booster landing vertically after putting a massive payload into orbit.

And having achieved that in just about ten years after putting their first craft into orbit. And their first commercial launch was only in 2013.

SpaceX is successful because Charlatan-In-Chief is completely hands-off and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwynne_Shotwell is making sure he stays like that.

At Tesla, he is perfectly playing the role of a Used Car Salesman. Rising price up, prices down, making false promises

The irony of criticising entrepreneurial risk taking on HN. Especially considering thus exact approach has lead to all his successes, which are innumerable.

Leaving knowledge on the table out of arrogance is not the same thing as entrepreneurship. Although i am as surprised as you that someone on HN managed to make the distinction.

Isn't it though. Copying an existing process would not be called entrepreneurship. Sure you can have one new aspect and everything else is the same. But the fundamental driver behind entrepreneurship is the thought that there can be a better way.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

I think a valid criticism of CIC is that he should have staged all his new tech instead of trying to do it all at once, like he himself has said. If you look you can find real things to be critical of him about.

> If they don't have a single vehicle, they are years and years away, to the point that Tesla truck may beat them to mass market.

StreetScooter, a DHL subsidiary, managed to ramp up the production of electric delivery trucks much quicker. They also sell to third-parties (mostly in Germany I suppose).


I think those will only work well in a very urban environment. The amazon warehouse is about 23 miles from my house. 50-60km range or even 100km will not work from home deliveries. 100km seems a little short even for USPS.

Was it quicker? 10,000 per year is a milestone that Tesla hit in 2013.

Tesla exists since... 2003? They started as a research initiative in 2010, things became only serious business wise when Deutsche Post acquired them in 2014.

Anyway I'm not even sure why exactly we're talking about Tesla. I thought they were going to produce a semi, not a delivery truck?

Trucks will presumably stay at lower rates than cars. A Tesla truck would also have lower production rates than the Model 3. So 10,000 for a company with much less funding doesn't sound too bad.

You must be thinking of somewhere else. Top selling vehicles of 2019 in USA:

1) Ford F-series

2) Dodge Ram

3) Chevrolet Silverado


> You must be thinking of somewhere else.

Indeed. The Amazon order is for delivery trucks (the same kind of car as produced by StreetScooter), not pickup trucks nor semis or whatever else people in this thread have been talking about.

I'm not sure making a single vehicle is harder to build than a large scale plant is... but I did find this via a quick google search: https://www.rivianforums.com/threads/preproduction-rivian-r1...

I wouldn't assume it's not a submarine commercial though...

Yeah I've seen this, it also looks like a submarine commercial to me. What I'm more interested in is it's specs. Can it really charge as fast as they say? Does it really have that range and acceleration?

I've seen the shell of one in person, but it just seems to me if you actually could make an electric truck go 0-60 in 3 seconds and last 400 miles you would just make a video of it doing that instead of making a marketing video of putting a grill in its "gear tunnel".

EV acceleration is directly proportional to how much current you can pull out of the battery pack, which is directly proportional to the number of battery cells, which is directly proportional to overall range... On paper, yes those numbers are feasible.

Wrong. Acceleration is driven by voltage, current dictates top speed.

They're a little wrong, mostly by conflating current (amps) and power (watts) because of standardized cells, all with the same voltage.

This post is worse. It's easy to get any voltage you want out of a big battery pack. And it's pretty easy to convert between voltages. The hard part is sustaining whatever max voltage your motor can accept, which is a matter of power. If your motor is big enough, and your electronics are at least competent, the limiting factor is the power your battery can supply.

Edit: Like, a Model S battery supplies about 330 volts and rearranging the battery cells in a simple way would make it supply 4000 volts at lower current. You could replace the coils in the motors to accept that newer voltage and get very similar performance but with significantly higher chance of electric shock.

Sorry then. My experience is with ebikes where more voltage gives you more torque. More amps - more top speed. But maybe the dash reports it differently and from POV of a controller.

If anything, it's the opposite; for a given motor winding, more voltage will increase the top speed, and high-load draws more current. That's why electric motors can burn out if you stall them.

The reality is more complicated when you can vary the motor design, Kv, etc.

For constant resistance, voltage is proportional to current so "acceleration is directly proportional to how much current you can pull" is equivalent to "acceleration is directly proportional to how much voltage you can pull". I don't think it's particularly helpful to bluntly tell someone they're wrong like this.

(Disclaimer: not an expert)

This is exactly backwards.

Rivian disguises their trucks as F-150s for real world testing, so good luck finding a video not made by them.

Building a prototype is the easy (and fun) part. Scaling production is much harder. https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-says-building-fact...

I think this is true if the prototype is known to be possible. It's not in the case.

What do you mean it's not known to be possible in this case?

I mean their trying to build something no ones ever built before and may be currently impossible.

They are wintering testing in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Looks pretty legit to me.


Is this common practice? I assume they’re being built closer to the arctic.

But if they want to do winter testing in August they have to go to the hemisphere that is experiencing winter.

It's not THAT hard to drop in batteries and motors to some 3D printed body and have it move around.

The basic design paradigm (skateboard) of EVs is basically established, new EV companies are systems integration and supply chain (esp. battery) setup... well, probably motor design now too, but it's not like people don't know how to make electric motors.

I'm surprised Amazon didn't go with Zenith Motors. They've got a good electric cargo van and a barebone chassis/cab. In my area, I've been seeing a dozen of them boppin' down the road (Northern Cali).

I could not find a single video of a 3rd party test drive. Only commercials, and walk-arounds.

Amazon led a USD 700 000 000 investment round in Rivian last February. https://arstechnica.com/cars/2019/02/electric-truck-startup-...

(Edit: change amount from thousands to millions)

So 700 000 000/100 000 would be 7 000 - So an initial investment of 7 000 per vehicle they want to buy.

Now if they buy 100 000 vehicles at a rate of $100 000 each (pretty reasonable for industrial vehicles), that is 10 000 000 000 (10 Billion dollars). If it's $50k each, that will be $5B. $5-10 Billion in sales ain't too shabby.

> Earlier this week, Reuters reported that Amazon and General Motors were both expected to invest in Rivian, "in a deal that would value the US electric pickup truck manufacturer at between $1 billion and $2 billion."

Assuming that valuation is vaguely accurate they must own a pretty decent chunk of the company too.

GM wound up not investing, but Ford did invest.

Disclaimer: I work for GM, I have no knowledge of this deal, any opinions are my own.

> Now if they buy 100 000 vehicles at a rate of $100 000 each (pretty reasonable for industrial vehicles),

Ahem, electric delivery trucks built by a DHL subsidiary (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/StreetScooter) are selling for much less.

Where are you seeing prices? From what I can tell from that article, StreetScooter mostly produces for internal use by their parent company.

Check their website, they sell to anyone willing to place a large enough order (it seems that the exact price is subject to negotiation).

Let's step back for a moment. DHL is replacing Volkswagen Caddy delivery trucks. The 100,000$ estimate is entirely off for this kind of delivery truck that I think is comparable to what Amazon needs.

So StreetScooter seems to be selling a van with a 40kWh battery for about $50000. Rivian is talking about building vehicles with batteries between 105-180kWh. That alone will raise the price quite a bit. Maybe it's overkill for a delivery van, but it's also very possible that Amazon has a need for longer trips than the DHL.

The StreetScooter has a range of 31 - 50 miles. This may be enough range for an urban delivery route but not near enough for the large number of suburban or rural delivery routes in the US. In comparison Rivian currently claiming a 410 miles range for their pickup truck. I don't expect the vans to get that range but 250 - 300 is probably reasonable to expect.

Maybe you are totally mixing up revenue and profit.

Profit? If there's one thing Amazon isn't concerned about...

700M not 700K

Wow, 100k is no small change. Hoping this accelerates the "tipping point" for electric vehicles - in my mind that's when the infrastructure for EVs (e.g. charging stations, or something in the future like battery swaps) actually makes it easier to own than a gas vehicle.

It's already easier with a plugin hybrid. You can drive electric for a huge amount of the typical 20 mile daily commute, and rarely having to visit the gas station, with most of your miles being powered by the grid.

If you're interested in that route, there are a ton of used Chevy Volts on the market now for $15-20k. And PHEVs are great for people in areas without good public charging infra, or who can't afford the current crop of high-range EVs (the latter being my case).

If instead you live on i.e. the West Coast, and can afford a high range pure-EV, you can go almost everywhere on electricity alone.

Yup. This is my experience. Bought a used Volt for $10k 3-4 years ago and probably have only visited a gas station about a dozen times since then.

And there's significant East Coast charging infrastructure. I bought a used Leaf (first gen, I needed 5 seats for my wife's car since the first gen Volt only has 4) for $10k a year or two ago and have used Chademo charging several times without problem. The low range of the Leafs is a little annoying, but the Chademo charging capability compensates fairly well. With a >200 mile range EV, I wouldn't even need the fast charging.

If you can charge at home, you realize how annoying it was to go to the gas station all the time. When I travel and rent or borrow a gas car, I always find it annoying that I have to go to the gas station regularly. It's just not convenient compared to just habitually plugging it in when I get home. It also smells.

I've always wondered what long term issues one might encounter with a Volt.

Can the gas in the tank go bad? I know modern fuel has a lot of preservatives.

Has anyone experienced any issues with summer vs winter blends? You're potentially carrying out of season gas in your tank.

The gas tank is pressurized and vacuumed or something. Actually have to press a button to open the tank to put more in. If you don't use the gas engine for 6 weeks, it runs for 15 min to lubricate. If you don't keep the average gas age below 1 year, it will run the gas engine until the average age is below 1 year. And that logic is very much as a software developer would expect. It burns half the gas away and you refill it? Average age is now 6 months. In 6 months it'll do it all over again.

The car takes care of that by keeping track of when you fuel. It will burn some of the gas to keep it from going bad, to keep the engine oiled, and occasionally to keep the vehicle warm.

The gas tank is pretty small (9 gallons), so it's not a big issue and only a tiny amount of fuel is used for these things. I normally keep about a quarter to half a tank in there, which is enough to be more than comfortable but not enough that I'm burning a lot of gas to keep it from going bad. It automatically keeps the average age of gas in the tank from going over 6 months.

>Can the gas in the tank go bad? I know modern fuel has a lot of preservatives.

This is something that is occasionally mentioned in speculative apocalyptic scenarios. It will go bad, after about a year you wouldn't be able to use any random car without swapping out its gas with some from a better preserved source.

I suspect it'd work, just not recommended. I drive around with nearly 6 month old gas all the time and have used >1 year old gas in lawnmowers and boats (etc). I suspect it'd run rough after a year or so, but probably good enough in such a scenario.

EDIT: Here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xktrYDny_lc

Gas deteriorates over time, but in practice, it’s not really a problem unless it’s very old.

I know an ex-junkman. He said that MTBE gasoline pissed him off because it went bad they had to pay to get rid of it. But they would fill their cars with the non MTBE gasoline no matter how old it was.

>I've always wondered what long term issues one might encounter with a Volt.

It's a Chevy...so expect some pretty bad engineering defects with everything but the engine/drivetrain.

Yeah, it does seem like Chevys have some pretty robust engines/drivetrains, installed in some pretty lousy bodies.

I have a truck that has 300k miles on the original engine and transmission but I have to change the headlight switch every 50 to 70k miles. I also have to replace the interior door handles every 100k. So, 6 door handles (right and left), 6 light switches, a fuel pump, radiator, and she's ready for a suspension. But rocking the same engine.

I've had an incredibly good experience with the Volt. They deployed their best engineers to work on it. It was probably the best made Chevy at the time, a kind of flagship project.

> It was probably the best made Chevy at the time, a kind of flagship project.

In 2013, the Volt and Cadillac CTS shared the highest score (3.00) of any General Motors vehicle in Consumer Reports Reliability Index (excluding the Pontiac Vibe which is really a Toyota rebadge).

For comparison: 37 (of 41) Toyota vehicles scored the same or better than the Volt.

I have an i3 REx right now (also super cheap for older models), which is basically a BEV with a backup generator that powers the battery (not the wheels, like a typical hybrid or PHEV).

I am on electricity 99.9% of the time for any commuting or local drives, but it enables me to do trips of practically any length which is great for me. It's a good stepping stone and my next car will be a pure BEV, but the convenience (and backup gas generator because I don't have in-home charging, I live in an apartment complex) is a lifesaver sometimes.

How do you find the performance of the i3 Rex in range extender mode?

I totally missed this question, but in case you find this answer:

It can barely keep up at true highway speeds. It can keep up at ~60-70 mph on flat ground, but just barely. Given highway speed limits are 60 mph minimum in most places (meaning traffic goes at 70 mph), this means I usually am losing charge on long journeys. If I lived in a place like TX where the speed limit was higher, then the REx wouldn't be able to keep up at all and there'd be a net loss in charge.

However, I have hold state-of-charge (HSoC) on-demand coded to my car (in the EU, you can enable the REx any time you want. CA regulations prohibited this in the US, but it can be enabled via an ODB-II adapter). If I am going on along journey, I enable the REx with a button at 80%.

I've done 600-700 mi trips without charging the car by filling the gas, as long as I'm conscious to begin looking for a gas station when the gas tank is ~10% (which is about 10 miles, and I've found that within 10 miles is about the max you'd find gas stations apart on a major highway).

By the time I get home, I'm down to 40-50% charge on the car (from 80%, since I can't turn on HSoC/REx at 100%, so the first 20% doesn't count for determining whether the REx can keep up) if I'm paranoid. This also is through the Cascade mountains in WA, so the real world usage holds up even over mountain passes. Going up the pass is a real pain since there's a high net loss of electrical charge, but going back down is basically "free" thanks to regen.

From the specs it appears that it can barely average highway speeds in range extender mode. Which is probably enough that the performance for passing and whatnot is the same as the electric mode.

To build a PHEV with all the performance characteristics of a Battery Electric Vehicle while running on battery, you need a motor, battery, and inverter that's almost as large as those on a BEV.

So the best PHEVs tend to be those that look more like BEVs with an accessory motor/generator, which is the Volt (sadly now discontinued) and the i3 Range Extender (Range extender models discontinued in EU).

I think at some point things might flip around, with non-plugin hybrids being the economy option, pure BEVs being the mid-priced option, and BEV with a range extender being a premium option for those who want all the advantages of both.

It would be nice, but I doubt the chargers they install will be available to the public. R&D for installing them is good, but will probably trickle down a lot less/slower.

Also those 100k will be on the road only by 2030, and 10k by 2022 according to the other tech-crunch article [0]

[0] https://techcrunch.com/2019/09/19/amazons-climate-pledge-com...

I charge at a (pre-Amazon) Whole Foods charging station fairly regularly. I wonder if they'll integrate more charging there.

I honestly don't understand why electric vehicle manufacturers went direct to consumer. Fleets are the ones that are looking at pure economics and would have the most to gain by cutting down on energy consumption.

Because looking at pure economics, electrics were not competitive until recently.

The genius about the Tesla Roadster was it was competitive at the price level of very expensive toys.

Yes. Musk has been exceptional at figuring out markets to drive a tech up the experience curve that aren’t his ultimately desired market. Often it takes multiple companies to do that.

Maybe five years ago I observed that Nissan and Tesla were homing in on the same market from opposite directions.

Tesla built the Roadster which is a toy. Then the Luxo Model X and S Sedans followed by the affordable Model 3. Nissan built the affordable but limited range Leaf and just kept increasing the range every other year or so.

They basically started each with one type of suck (Tesla=Price, Nissan=Range) and worked to reduce over time.

It makes sense to go for the premium segment if you can sell in it. I do doubt that Nissan could have sold a Roadster under their brand, but stranger things have happened.

As it is, Nissan has cemented the Leaf = bad range association in people's minds.

Oddly the leaf sales peek in 2014 then heavily fall back. http://carsalesbase.com/us-car-sales-data/nissan/nissan-leaf...

So, I am not sure if they are actually moving the right direction vs introducing new car with better specks and keeping the leaf as cheap as possible.

PS: I am guessing a reverse halo effect is going on.

It'll be interesting. Leaf have a not good rep vs battery life. Probably because of poor thermal management and a smaller (more highly stressed) battery pack. And short range.

But interesting to see what happens with the Leaf Plus over the next couple of years. (200 mile range more power).

Hyundai and Renault have better offers now.

I never realized that before, but you're right.

I don't think they have. There are already quite a few cities around the world with a large percentage of electric buses.

They went to fleets too. We just have more information about direct customers because we're direct customers.

Truck prices are already out of control, and the superior towing (if they do the torque right) should put in the class of superduty trucks.

Plus these will have tons of commercial customers who get to depreciate it on schedule, and the longer term lower maintenance and fuel costs come into play more.

... assuming the design goes well.

I think we're past the tipping point when a company orders 100k vehicules

tipping point, indeed... and not in a good way:

let's take 100,000 vehicles with (I'm conservatively guessing) a 100 kWh battery each, that's a 100,000,000 kWh load each night! 100,000 Mega watt-hours is roughly the output of about 10 nuclear power plants in a 24H period.

Unless a lot of new capacity comes online, it could easily overwhelm the existing electrical grid's capacity.

Let's hope this is a gradual transition.

Note that 100kWh/day * 100,000 vehicles is 10,000MWh/day. If a typical nuclear power plant output is about 500MW, that's 12,000MWh/day.

Good. That's a lot of oil that would need to be burned that this is replacing!

Also that math is assuming a full charge every day. I doubt that would be the case

Edit That would be between 400 to 500 km a day. I would be surprised delivery vans need that much

Isn't it more like 10,000,000 kWh, i.e. 10000 MWh? New nuclear units go up to 1600 MW of output, so it's less than 10 hours of output from a single reactor.

Yes, parent is mixing energy with power. If charge is done at night, there's ample available energy for these trucks

It costs 6kW to refine a single gallon of gasoline. We can shift our energy away from the refineries as their demand tapers off.

I'd say that number is a bit suspect as the amount of work to refine Texas Sweet (WTI) vs the more difficult to refine oil you find from Venezuela or the entire Middle East (it is heavier or more "sour") is vastly different. This gives a primer on it:


>> the entire Middle East

Except for Saudi sweet. There is plenty of very high quality oil in Saudi Arabia, which is no doubt in the heart of the "middle east". (Iraq and the UAE also produce sweet crude.) The really nasty stuff, the really energy-intensive gunk, is the tarsand bitumen from Canada. Saudi oil is positively green in comparison.


>> The term sweet originates from the fact that a low level of sulfur provides the oil with a mildly sweet taste and pleasant smell.

Much to most of KSA's oil is full of heavy sulfur content and is considered sour. Virtually all of the Texas oil is considered sweet. WTI (Texas Sweet) is basically the benchmark for the best oil. Some of the best oil (sweet) in the middle east traditionally was from Libya, but since team america world police took out Gadaffi it has been a mess there. I'm not very familiar with Canadian oil as we don't need much of it here.


""" Saudi crude is generally a mix of heavy to medium sour oil, which is generally high in sulfur and yields a decent amount of residual fuel and vacuum gasoil. """


""" The major producers of sour crude oil include ... Saudi Arabia """

I wasn't meaning they have no sweet light crude oil, only that it is the overwhelming minority of what they have.


I wonder who took it upon themselves to taste all the different kinds of crude oil to classify them by flavor... Job for a grad student?

Oil prospectors invented the terms when they were combing the backcountry looking for oil, without access to proper chemical labs.

I just found this humorous clip of the Trailer Park Boys, which alludes to the tastes of various types of gasoline: https://youtu.be/RXtePW4v8zs

Wasn't oil used medicinally for a while after its discovery? Not ingested, but rubbed on your skin to ease joint pain?

More than for "a while". Oil was discovered hundreds, thousands, of years ago. It used to seep out of the ground in many places (See the opening sequence of The Beverly Hillbillies). Only once we started pumping it did all the surface seeps dry up.

Fun fact, it still does, in 2019, seep out of the ground in downtown Los Angeles. Literally on the miracle mile sits the La brea Tarpits. You can see the pond with oil bubbling out of the water. If you're ever in Los Angeles, it is a very memorable thing to visit.


6kWh to refine a gallon of gasoline? That's not a bad conversion rate given that the energy in a gallon of gasoline is 33-34kWh.

The typical internal combustion engine is only ~30% efficient, getting only ~10 kWh of energy out of that gallon.

Indeed. That does not, however, impact the actual energy available in a gallon of gasoline.

Technically the 6kWh of energy spent on refining (or any other work) is itself subject to inefficiencies in generation, transmission, etc. It would also suffer from inefficiencies in the electrical storage and motive portions of an electric vehicle as well. And at the end of the day even if there were perfect 100% conversion it would still only be 6kWh of energy available vs 33-34kWh.

I think the point is that the energy inputs required to produce a gallon of gasoline could approximately power an EV vehicle roughly the same distance that a typical ICE could go on a gallon of gasoline. A quick google search seems to back that up.

I'm not sure I'm seeing the same comparisons that you are regarding travel distances. A Tesla Model 3 uses 24-29 kWh/100 miles (depends on drive/battery options) which would be 4-5 gallons of gasoline. That would be 20-25MPG assuming the 10kWh/gallon ICE which is pretty low for a mid-sized sedan. An Accord hybrid pulls around 48MPG, while a Dodge Charger Hellcat SRT manages an EPA combined 23MPG (hardly a typical ICE given that it puts out 707 horsepower).

The average MPG in the US is around 25mpg[1]. So assuming that 6 kWh of electricity from the grid (big assumption, see below) is used to refine a gallon of gas, then it seems like the math pencils out. Of course the MPG average includes trucks and SUVS, etc, so not a perfect comparison but very much in the ballpark.

Regarding the 6kWh number, I have been having a lot of trouble confirming it. Some stuff I have read says that refineries are major consumers of grid electricity. Others claim that they can produce most of their energy needs from the oil distillates on-site. My best guess is that it probably depends on how old the refinery is, because it seems like the older reports/estimates tend to mention the electricity consumption, whereas the newer ones mention the 'on-site' energy generation/consumption. I think a lot of the energy demand of the refinery is used for heating, so burning the oil distillates would be way more efficient than using grid electricity for that. So, it may just be the case that older refineries are way less efficient than newer ones, and the 'EV vs ICE' comparison depends on how modern the refineries are in your area.

[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions/u-s-vehic...

The Model 3 gets 126 MPGe.

That is incorrect. You have to compare the 6kWh where it is used (at the refinery) and the 10kWh available on the vehicle. Both numbers already include the inefficiencies and therefore are comparable.

Which gives to a mere 4Wh of additional power extracted from gasoline.

A "mere 4kWh of additional power" is 67% additional power.

Pretty lousy for something that we consider a primary source of energy.

That's true, but it does ignore the waste heat, which in winter months is used to warm the passenger compartment. It's one thing EVs do have working against them, though it doesn't make up for the huge efficiency gain EVs have overall.

I know several coworkers who prefer to drive their EV in the winter because it heats up quicker (waiting ~5 minutes for the ICE to warm up the car vs. an active electric heater that starts right away)

Yes, but they're having to actively use battery power to do that, instead of just passively using waste heat from the ICE engine. So this greatly reduces their range. It probably works out fine for them because the car's maximum range is probably much greater than their commute distance, so they probably have battery capacity to spare and burning some of it on heat isn't a big deal as it gets recharged at home every night (and maybe also at work). If they had more "range anxiety", however, they probably wouldn't be so eager.

I suppose you'd want to include transportation 'costs', and off gassing (edit: I meant flaring), etc, etc.

Consumption is lower at night and peaks during the day. So there is already spare capacity in the system, although it might not be clean energy.

Residential net consumption is more complex than that due to solar and wind. There is a duck curve, and sometimes the lowest energy prices are in the middle of the day, for wholesale it could be negative.

I don't understand what you mean? Surely the duck curve just relates to renewable production rather than consumption.

Do delivery trucks typically consume 90%+ of their battery on a daily basis?

I mean, if they're not being used most of the day, you bought too many...

Delivery trucks run during the day mostly. Cities may prohibit deliveries at night for noise reasons. Deliveries at night might be more likely to be stolen, etc. Could be able to fix the first issue with the quietness of EVs perhaps.

And if they start putting dampers on the doors. There are two ways I can tell UPS is delivering:

* The extremely loud engine and exhaust. (They are loud and unpleasant to listen to - it ain't no Ferrari)

* The slamming of the doors open and closed.

If I hear a loud agricultural sounding engine and then a loud slamming sliding type door... I know it's UPS - 100%. I don't even need to look outside.

Tesla is adding over 100k vehicles a quarter to the fleet. 100k trucks over 5 years is a drop in the bucket.

For once, mighty Amazon comes late to the show.

Germany's parcel service DHL builds up a fleet of small electric delivery vans since 2014:


Living in Bavaria, I see these drive around everywhere now.

I remember the fury of one of the top VW executives when he discovered that DHL developed their own vehicles instead of hiring VW to do that.

Good for DHL. I would buy such a thing if they sold them to consumers.

I've heard that DHL urged VW and Mercedes for years to develop e-delivery trucks, but both manufacturers did not show any interest. It was kind of last resort to search for partner and start a joint venture to build those trucks.

Germany's parcel service DHL builds up a fleet of small electric delivery vans since 2014

In Chicago, FedEx has had electric delivery vans since at least 2005.

I saw a UPS truck in Nevada last month that I thought was a regular UPS truck until it sped away almost silently. I guess UPS has been converting its fleet, but I don't know for how long..

UPS has had hybrid trucks here in Phoenix for quite a few years; I haven't seen any fully electric ones yet, but I'm not really looking, either.

I've seen frito-lay driving electric delivery trucks driving around for years as well. I do not recall the brand.

be more German

These seem like they'd never work in the US. They aren't fast enough to go on the highway and their range is limited to 62 miles.

There are urban parts of the US where some delivery trucks never go on the highway and don't drive that far in a day.

There are also parts of Germany where delivery trucks need to be able to go on the highway and to drive farther than 62 miles.

These trucks are solving the "last mile" delivery. Do you see many USPS delivery vans on the highway? That's the market.

In a dense urban environment, 62 miles is still less than most delivery trucks drive. In the US, the actual average overall is more like 2-3x that.

All the time. That being said, it is Seattle so I-5 isn't usually moving at 50 mph anyway :)

this quora question has some good answers. Rural routes could be 150, urban routes could be as low as 5 miles but more typically around 60-80


The US has cities, I believe.

But even those tend to have much lower population density than European cities. In Europe (and especially Germany where this was developed), large parts of cities consist of multi-family homes with a high population density. Those make up a much smaller part of cities in the US.

Do you have any sources to back up this claim?

Warning: petty partisanship ahead.

Our last Republican governor in Illinois spent some quality time trashing this company, which sure looks shortsighted in retrospect: https://www.adaptbn.com/home/2018/5/16/breaking-rauner-criti...

He also made a point to trash all of Central Illinois as a place to do business, which is a heck of a strategy for business development. https://www.news-gazette.com/news/rauner-apologizes-for-rema...

Anyway, yay, the auto plant that funded my upbringing is back in action.

my father worked at the Mitsubishi plant for 20-something years. left a few years before they shut down. spent 5 years at Tesla.

he just started at rivian, back in the old Mitsubishi plant.

has to be surreal

My dad started way back in 1989, and had the fortune to take an early retirement package. Now he spends his days doing adult enrichment at Bradley University. Living the sweet mid-century union dream.

Does he blame your generation for being lazy

> adult enrichment at Bradley University

do you have video in HD?

Some friends used to make an annual trip down there. It was where the DSMs were built so it was a fun drive down in our loud rattleboxes.

Neat they're using the plant again.

Oh man, the old turbo Eclipse. Now that was a car. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_Eclipse

They don't build them like they used to. Probably for a reason. My dad heard gossip at the plant they had to move away from the racer boy turbo platform because they were just too astronomically expensive to insure–because they were invariably driven by 20-something guys who wrapped them around trees.

And as an adult male who has driven a WRX: yes, that tracks.

My dad had a '91 Plymouth Laser RS and he sold it because it basically said to the cops "point radar gun here."

He had to take one ticket to court because he was being passed by a Caddy, and the gun picked up their speed rather than his.

It was a blast to drive though.

Loved my GSX.

Wonderful car

Fellow Normalite here, you still in the area? Would love to talk shop with a local Hacker Newser. Email in my profile if you're interested.

Your email address is not visible to others unless you put it in the about field along with the other text you have there.

Thanks for the tip! Updated my profile with my email address.

Wow, I would not have expected to find so many Normalites here.

Spent 7 years in Urbana-Champaign. 45 minutes from Normal. There is huuuge potential in that area.

I’ve spent a lot of time there - agreed.

Same! Also a Normalite here.

Checking in. Grew up in Decatur/Forsyth.

Hey there. Graduated from ISU and Fat Jacks.

Great place to get a drink. So is Fat Jacks.

Ex-kinda-Normalite here. I went to ISU

I grew up in Bloomington, the closest city in the world to Normal. I moved away before the Mitsubishi plant was built, tho.

A politician from the Chicago area trashed downstate. <surprised Pikachu>

There's a saying about tigers and stripes for exactly this situation. Anyone who thought he would be good for downstate because he had an R beside his name was thinking very wishfully.

So how does this work? Right now, Amazon outsources delivery. Will they be building huge garages for their fleet? Or trying to get their drivers to pay for the vans, like Uber? And like they did in 2018, when they "bought" 20,000 Mercedes vans?[1] That deal: "Amazon will not own the vans but they will be handled by fleet management companies, who will then lease them to the delivery service owners."

[1] https://multichannelmerchant.com/operations/amazon-adding-fl...

I believe Amazon is working towards building its own shipping empire [1] [2].

[1] https://www.npr.org/2019/08/07/749163966/fedex-is-breaking-u... [2] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/15/amazon-will-compete-with-fed...

I see Amazon shipping vans in my neighborhood fairly regularly.

Considering Amazon history I would not be surprised that this leads to "Amazon Delivery" which does exactly what you think. "Amazon Delivery" would slowly be responsible for an increasing portion of "Amazon Retail" parcels then generate money by opening to a wider audience.

Amazon rents the delivery vans to the contracting companies even now. I read somewhere that these vans are specific models that skirt the regulation and qualify as personal vehicles.

My brother runs a repair company for these vans. From my understanding that is not true only because he has set guidelines with them which he must make sure the align with.

They already have this in some areas. Most of our deliveries are directly from Amazon trucks. I'm in a Houston suburb across the city (not in a 1 hour delivery area) from the distribution center. I just started noticing same day deliveries as well.

Well, they have contractors leasing Amazon-branded vans from a fleet management company. Like the top poster illustrated.

I work for a company that could most definitely deliver this vision before Rivian could (this is entirely my personal opinion and not reflective of my company) due to our extensive, non-vapourware, build history. The trucks are very real and being field tested, delivering real packages to real people every day. Most don’t even realise they are electric.

The price is not a niche price you may imagine; it’s very highly competitive for fleet managers that entirely makes sense on their books and not just for the environment or marketing. You don’t have to wait for the product to be R&D or whatever, because they’re rolling off the line right now, and typically no charging infrastructure is needed due to on-board charging.

Australian designed.


Slightly OT, I know: Does your company sell power trains to individuals? I'm shopping for one (around 50kW, perhaps sans battery) that is relatively inexpensive and can go on the road in Europe without an extra electromagnetic inspection.

Sans battery is pretty a significant change to the controller software, I think you’ll find is a difficulty when talking inexpensive.

Why do you think Amazon went with Rivian instead of your company?

A guess: Rivian is an American company and Amazon wants that juicy DoD cloud contract. Not the best look when there are domestic alternatives

Personal opinion only;

If you are delivering vehicles today, then the technology that you have validated is (although not vapourware) older than today. And to meet people’s expectation of a cheap vehicle without operating at a loss (no VC money), there are realities imposed by cost.

Someone like Rivian with lots of VC money isn’t concerned with surviving between sales, so they can afford to take the risk of selling things that don’t exist yet, at a loss if they desire, and so their marketing department is constantly walking on water.

Plus, you guys drive on the wrong side of the road.

"The company will be ordering 100,000 electric delivery trucks"

Headline is false. Amazon have NOT ordered 100k electric delivery trucks. Amazon have made a announcement to get a lot of free press. For themselves (vitue signalling, oooh isn't amazon green) and for the company in which they have invested.

Seriously. I'm announcing here that I will order bezos' underpants. You should take it as seriously. Corporate PR is and this is another weak edition of it from Amazon.

This article as well as others are a bit thin on that particular detail, with some saying "will be ordering" and others speaking of Rivian "receiving an order" or "a deal being announced".

But, in any case: do you actually have doubts that this is real? I can see scepticism regarding the timetable and targeted number of vehicles. But for Amazon to just nope away now would be catastrophic for their $750 million investment in Rivian, and their general image. It would destroy far more than whatever this announcement may get in terms of good PR.

And isn't investing $750 million into such a company enough "skin in the game" to make accusations of "virtue signalling" nonsensical, even by that cheap insult's own definition?

This is a "news" story. It's supposed to be new. Writing an analysis story about how amazon are wonderful and green and citing evidence is just fine. Use good evidence. Write it and argue it well. That is not what this is. This is a naked play for positive PR and the facts are thin. Call it for what it is. Make this kind of positive PR at least as expensive as it needs to be to get. Make it so you have to do something to get it. Smoke and mirrors should not garner positive PR. This announcement is smoke and mirrors - there is NO order!! And if you think amazon are not smoke and mirrors then why are they doing it? It's a bad scene that makes them look dishonest and they should not be doing it.

"Virtue signalling" is not a cheap insult it's a useful discription of a behaviour. It also isn't in any way BAD. No really. Signalling that you are doing good things and should be thought of as doing those good things thus enhancing your brand reputation is actually what everybody wants, right? Positive PR for doing things that are good. Signalling to the market your virtue based on actual substance. Not paper thin announcements that we will be announcing something of substance later to stoke the news cycle. That's gamed up crap.

Again I don't see substance in this announcment. I see a false headline. I'm calling it because that is what it is and virtue needs to be real, not simply corporate PR "announcements" of no commitment. Or nobody gets good PR from doing good things of real substance.

Separate to that, looking at amazon stories lately is it possible to cynical enough about their PR? That's reflected here.

Amazon’s corporate statement has more detail than you claim:

> Amazon today announced the order of 100,000 electric delivery vehicles from Rivian, the largest order ever of electric delivery vehicles, with vans starting to deliver packages to customers in 2021. Amazon plans to have 10,000 of the new electric vehicles on the road as early as 2022 and all 100,000 vehicles on the road by 2030—saving 4 million metric tons of carbon per year by 2030.


In case that wasn't clear. The order has NOT been made. Perhaps a good story, that is more than just corporate PR would be one that matches the headline. Where the announcement is that they have made the order and the terms. (Cancellable at any time for any reason - yeah not that). That way it would be a story with substance not simply a corporate PR announcement, which this clearly is, whether we wish it were more or not.

And remember when Uber “ordered” 100,000 Mercedes S-Classes?


Bezos is probably trying to pressure UPS (or has some other business motive) versus target Amazon’s carbon footprint. Amazon will undoubtably grow its own delivery fleet over time, but this splashy press release is probably not entirely about climate change.

Amazon already has a delivery fleet, something like 7000 trucks along with a few dozen planes. And they're pushing very aggressively to expand their Prime 2 day shipping to 1 day, which requires even more. They also sell/lease trucks to contractors, and many of these may be earmarked for that program as well. I don't doubt at all that this is a legitimate order, even if their reason for going electric isn't all sunshine and rainbows and environmental friendliness.

Ugh yes. I was so excited to get driven around in one of the nicest cars on the market. I genuinely believed that uber was gonna have a ton of benzes on the road. I'm still kind of upset.

Climate change? I thought it was about Bezos taking a snipe at Tesla because SpaceX is way ahead of Blue Origin.

Human will be saved my the egos of 2 billionaires

I'd rather they had a pissing contest by building space exploration companies than that they just kept building bigger and bigger boats.

This discussion https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21016645 has more comments and only recently fell off of the front page.

Am I the only one who finds the spare tire location an absolute deal breaker? You have to unload the payload, and lift up the payload bed floor in order to access the spare. Now, I suppose this doesn't matter much to Amazon. But I have had the experience of being out the back-country where cell phones don't work, miles from a highway, changing a truck tire by myself. If I had to spend 1 or 2 hours unloading the truck before I could get at the spare, that would be a huge issue. At one point I was seriously considering writing a deposit check for a Rivian. The spare tire location told me instantly that this truck is not for me -- the designers have no idea how trucks are actually used. The utter cluelessness of that design decision boggles me.

Honestly in this day and age, Amazon is better off having a service company come and change the tire so as to avoid workplace injuries and other liabilities. Most companies are able to bring spares from their stock.

Oh, sure, absolutely. An Amazon driver just calls service and goes about his business. That is different from the average truck-user case.

Many new cars don't come with spare tires any more, so at least they have one.

Can't be too hard to just mount a wheel carrier in the bed, or swinging on the rear, and just use that spot as extra storage though. I don't know a single off-roader who doesn't mod their vehicle in similar ways to make up for perceived shortcomings.

> Can't be too hard to just mount a wheel carrier in the bed

Um... yeah. Kind of defeats the purpose of having a truck.

You stand them upright so you've still got plenty of space in the bed. It's very common here in Australia.

Sure, but one begins to wonder how much knowledge this company has of actual usage if they get something this straightforward wrong.

If they are targeting sales to a small number of large fleets, this doesn't matter. In fleet operations, the driver will never ever be allowed to change a tire. This is simply not acceptable, insurance-wise. You will dispatch a second truck to handle the delivery and also a tire repair service truck.

An electric delivery truck is probably not even in the cards for small players, where gas or diesel is a better option all around.

Didn't someone give a big list of trucks that already do this, last time it came up?

I don't know if this is a factor, but trucks and SUVs with externally accessible tires are at risk of theft.

Additionally, heavily loaded vehicles should really have both special care and special jacks to change the tire with a load intact.

honestly, "how trucks are actually used" is mostly in a city, commuting to and from work, with the bed completely empty.

Where can I find details on this part?


Nice picture there. Also, search Rivian on the TFL Trucks web site for everything they have ever done on the Rivian.

I understand your annoyance, but these days I carry a can of spray-in gloop for punctures.

That can work for punctures. The back-country that I go to regularly has granite rocks that can sometimes have a sharp edge. The particular tire I was changing was a 4-steel-ply contractor-grade truck tire, two weeks old, that somehow got cross-wise of a piece of split granite that put a 3 inch gash in it. Goop will not do it in that case. I am still amazed at the damage that rock did. But hey, that's life in the mountains.

Your local tire shop will not be delighted about this. I'm told the spray in gloop gets everywhere and makes changing the tire (removing it from the rim and installing a new one) hell for the techs.

My local tyre shop is used to it because sadly (in the UK) the majprity of fmily cars are sold without a spare wheel.

I love it when your investors are also your biggest customers, they know if they get your revenue numbers they can flip the shares at a massive multiple of those revenue numbers. Its like guaranteeing a 10x

And the founders get paid twice or thrice!

I've never heard of Rivian before and had to look it up: it's an American automaker founded in 2009.

The larger story here is that the ev revolution, after decades of hopes and slow progress, is finally taking off.

Never heard from Rivian before. I'd have expected Tesla to get that contract, but I guess if Amazon invested in Rivian it makes sense to order 100k vehicules and make sure that company is successful to get a huge return.

It is highly likely the investment was because Rivian is the company Amazon decided long ago to order from, not that Amazon is ordering from them because they invested.

Did Amazon announce they'd also help Rivian in AI / self-driving ? This is an area of expertise where Tesla is years ahead of Rivian by I'm thinking if Rivian gets Amazing engineering help, they will catch up sooner

Are they including the carbon footprints of their employees and all products including of their vendors? And if not, how meaningful is it?

> The commerce giant will seek to meet its goal of becoming carbon-neutral by 2040

Their employees would still exist if they didn’t; they’re not cloning them somewhere. And people would still buy stuff.

What is the article referring to when it cites an "increase in climate change" and says that it's been more aggressive than predicted?

Did they order those through Amazon.com?

The US government could do something similar if we wanted to force a global change

This seems like it is a great idea for Amazon, regardless of whether this deal works out for them. If Rivian manages to build and ship these cars on schedule at the expected cost, that would of course be a great outcome for Amazon. But it's not actually necessary for the overall strategy to work for Amazon.

Suppose that does not happen? Their goal with this is simply to shift the fleet of vans they rely on today to electric to reduce cost. Currently most of that is third party operated and diesel powered. The cost of that diesel is a big component of the delivery cost for Amazon. Besides, lots of cities relevant to Amazon are currently considering diesel bans/restrictions. So they have a solid motive for wanting to address that.

The mission of these delivery vans is very simple. They do nothing else than drive to and from Amazon's massive distribution centers to pick up loads of packages and distribute them in the area. I don't have numbers here but I imagine the vast majority of these trips are well below 150 miles.

So, the mission for an electric delivery van would be to drive these routes and charge quickly in between from a preferably cheap power source. It so happens that these distribution centers are huge and vans have to stop there to take new packages on board; which represents a great opportunity to plug in.

Huge distribution center here means lots of room for a couple of mega watts worth of solar panels on the roof to power a couple of tens of charging points. The resulting power can be delivered to super chargers at the loading docks and the vans can probably suck up enough power while they are loading to cover the next round. And of course, using solar power probably gets Amazon access to some nice subsidies and grants as well as lots of great PR about how green they are.

Why partner with Rivian for this? Well, Amazon is faced with a market where the existing manufactuers are dragging their heels a bit. There are some electrical vans on the market but not quite at the scale needed and most of the big manufacturers are not shipping them in meaningful volume yet. Nothing like a Tesla like small startup to shake that up a little. Best case Rivian actually delivers. Worst case Amazon just buys electric vans from somebody else (whomever steps up). Also, they just put all the third party delivery companies on notice that Amazon wants to go electric. They too would need to charge these vans and I bet they can do that on favorable terms at Amazon's chargers in Amazon's distribution centers. Yep, they'd be buying electricity from Amazon to deliver for Amazon. Either way, the vans become electric and Amazon has a need for charging infrastructure.

Best case of course this works out for Rivian as intended and Amazon gets a nice return on investment. From their point of view, they already have a great drive train for a ridiculously overpowered pickup truck and they are already building production capacity for that. Delivery vans don't need four wheel drive and probably also don't really need 400 miles of range. Meaning, a smaller variant of the drive train but with the fast charging capability would be perfect for one of these vans. Bonus points for making them capable of autonomous driving; which is something Rivian is investing in.

Finally, why 100K? Very simple. Amazon has hundreds of distribution centers serviced by hundreds of vans. If you want to electrify all/most of them you'd need about 100K vans. Ten years is reasonable timeline to electrify the delivery fleet one way or another.


Breathing is carbon neutral if your food source is carbon neutral.

I'm glad you realize that carbon-negative activities can offset carbon-positive activities. I really don't understand why you immediately declare that it doesn't matter, though.

If the average person/company uses mostly-renewable supplies, and buries enough trees to offset the rest, then it doesn't 'only delay' carbon emissions, we can stop forever or even reduce the levels.

And you act like delaying bad effects for hundreds of years isn't a very good thing all by itself...

Even if that was true, so what? It's clearly better to emit N minus X tons of carbon after buying electric trucks than it is to emit N tons before.

whats the carbon footprint of producing a single van?

The more correct question is:

Liftime EV-Van Footprint = Production-Footprint(EV-Van) + Operational-Footprint(EV-Van, lifetime-miles-driven)


Lifetime ICE-Van Footprint = Production-Footprint(ICE-Van) + Operational-Footprint(ICE-Van, lifetime-miles-driven)

This calculation overwhelmingly favors the EV van, increasingly so as the carbon footprint of the operational electricity source itself reduces in footprint (i.e. increasing use of solar, window, nuclear, etc). Delivery vans in particular have a charging profile (late evening through morning) that matches the peak production of wind.

Note that the carbon footprint of petroleum use is strictly higher than even the highest carbon sources of electricity, and it has a high extraction cost also.

I think it's clear the lifecycle calculation favors the EV, but I don't think it's night and day[1]. Likely the emissions associated with the manufacture of the ICE and EV vans are similar (the batteries in the EV may even make it a little worse). But there's no doubt that the EV is a huge improvement in use, and switching a large portion of the trucks in our cities to EV would be giant win for air quality. As you say, electricity generation can continue to get greener as well, unlike gas production...

1: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/20...

As I write this I'm on the 521 bus in central London. This bus is battery electric powered. I didn't even realise it was possible until I got on one.

The difference in noise alone is unbelievable. The elimitation of tailpipe emissions is a huge bonus in a dence city centre. Even if the lifecycle emissions are the same it would still be worth it.

The only thing I don't like about them is the torque and instant reaction of the motor make it easy for inconsiderate bus drivers to make the ride quite unpleasant.

It's one of these if you are interested:


>The only thing I don't like about them is the torque and instant reaction of the motor make it easy for inconsiderate bus drivers to make the ride quite unpleasant.

Seems easy enough to solve this with a fly-by-wire "throttle" and some software to limit max acceleration from a stop.

> 1: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/20....

That article compares the footprint of building a new car vs keeping and existing already built car, not ICE vs EV lifetime carbon footprint. The actual reduction in lifetime carbon footprint for an EV is around 50% vs and ICE, as described here:


Not sure if you'd call that night and day, but it's pretty huge.

> . But there's no doubt that the EV is a huge improvement in use, and switching a large portion of the trucks in our cities to EV would be giant win for air quality.

Indeed, and by consequence, it should reduce the rate of respiratory illnesses in cities caused by particular air pollution today.

That’s also at American grid levels, and most of the remaining emissions are down to fossil fuels on the grid. Eliminate fossil fuels from grid generation (France for instance is mostly non-fossil already) and the reduction from gasoline to electric is closer to 80%.

> (the batteries in the EV may even make it a little worse)

I'm not sure it makes it worse. Lithium is a common, non-toxic element that is easily recycle-able. Pound-for-pound batteries are "just" mostly replacing steel and lead (and oil-based lubricating fluids) ICE engine components, which can be toxic, sometimes nearly impossible to recycle, and produced in very unclean smelting, machining, (and refining) operations.

It's easy to forget that the electromagnet motors in an EV are not just a lot fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine, but are a lot fewer parts entirely. The emissions savings in all those ICE parts is presumably pretty big given how huge the relevant supply chains themselves are. (Ever glanced at a Bosch parts catalog? And that's just one supplier of dozens.)

I've never seen a good breakdown of the emissions costs of a contemporary internal combustion engine and exhaust system, but that's a much better comparison versus the emissions associated with batteries than a lot of the current battery emissions breakdowns assume as if batteries were in addition to a traditional engine, rather than almost a full replacement for one.

> I'm not sure it makes it worse. Lithium is a common, non-toxic element that is easily recycle-able.

I think one of main constraints on battery cost is the price of cobalt, which is a conflict mineral. Some chemistries (like lithium iron phosphate) don't need cobalt, but a lot of the high-performing batteries do.

Cobalt is an off-product/"waste-product" of Nickel mines. Certainly, most of the world's Nickel mines are in questionably regulated locales such as Columbia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but Nickel is likely to continue to be mined whether or not the Cobalt those mines produce also gets sold to battery companies.

Cobalt is also presumed to be entirely recycle-able from most battery compositions, but is in such small quantities that it isn't today economically feasible (and so long as people are mining Nickel, unlikely to be).

If you used a programming language where you could only create (prod-footprint) and modify the state of (op-footprint) objects but you could never garbage collect them … what would you think of that language?

Don't you need + Disposal-Footprint(EV-Van) and + Disposal-Footprint(ICE-Van) tacked on to the end of both of your equations?

EV and ICE vans don't magically poof! into thin air once you're done with them.

Lifetime footprint seems like the wrong thing to measure, you want something more along the lines of lifetime footprint divided by distance travelled.

If X vans last 3x longer than Y vans, driving the same number of miles per day, they're an improvement over Y even if there lifetime footprint is twice as big.

For ICE vehicles production and disposal are about 15% of the total carbon footprint, the rest is fuel and servicing. Lat time I saw the figure the total impact of producing an EV was more, but the lifetime impact was about 30-40% of an ICE.

EVs really are a lot more efficient. When I worked it out for an EV charging from 'average' UK electricity, it was about 25% of my (already small and efficient) ICE car.

Petrol is a large tax source in the UK -- every mile you drive in a petrol car funds your local school.

I mean, at one point fireplaces were a major tax source in the UK. Later on, windows.

Governments can tax EV owners to offset the loss of fuel taxes. In many US States, the fees payed by EV owners exceed fuel taxes.


Sure, but that will change the cost per mile

Think about the kids! Because we've got an arbitrary tax connection between two things.

So does chopping down trees and selling the firewood. Its a good point, but a perverse argument.

Carbon footprint is one thing to be critical about, but a bigger advantage with electric vehicles is removing point source pollution and moving the ghg production to powerplants. Powerplants are usually farther away from people (not idling under their windows) and often have more stringent emission standards than vehicles. There's also the opportunity to make electric vehicles with renewable energy barring the petroleum products that compose the vehicle itself.

Point source pollution, and also I am guessing, about 85% of dense urban daytime noise where average speeds are below 20mph. HVAC and tire noise make up a considerable portion of the remainder. Big cities are about to get a lot quieter over the next 20 years.

> whats the carbon footprint of producing a single van?

Are you saying they should repurpose already built trucks, instead of buying new ones? Then we would have to calculate how long the new electric trucks would take to offset their emissions.

If buying used was not on the table, this question is moot.

Less than that of a van that continues to generate carbon after it leaves the factory.

IIRC the build energy is around the same as ~20k-30k miles of driving. Obviously this is dependent on many variables, but it's a significant amount - around 17 tonnes for a mid-range hatchback car [1]

[1] - https://www.theguardian.com/environment/green-living-blog/20...

You can get a pretty decent number for the carbon footprint by using dollars instead.

Add the cost of the van, plus cost of power to the van, vs cost of ICE van, plus fuel.

Then compare.

Am I the only one who noticed multiple spelling errors in the article. "whine" instead of "when", "revelled" instead of "revealed" :(

As far as I'm concerned, this move is pure greenwashing until Amazon stops collaborating with oil and gas companies to extract fossil fuels faster.


Dude... amazon is a big company. It has lots of different groups. One sees an opportunity to make money by providing service to oil and gas - the other sees an opportunity to reduce their costs and/or get good pr by using ev’s.

This could be greenwashing, if this was done purely or mostly as a pr move, but that’s separate from the fact that another wing of the company does business with oil and gas.

The sooner Amazon helps get all of the oil and gas out of the ground, the sooner we'll be forced to adopt electric cars.

Unfortunately, we cannot afford to pull all of the fossil fuels out of the ground.

There are trillions of barrels of unconventional oil shale (confusingly, not the same as shale oil) in the Green River formation in Wyoming/Colorado alone. If it was all extracted and burned and put into the atmosphere (assuming none makes it as ocean acidification, etc), it'd raise the CO2 level from the current 400ppm (about 3 trillion tons of CO2 in the atmosphere right now) to 500ppm. Just a single formation.

And there's 5 trillion tons of coal in Alaska, equivalent to about 15 trillion tons of CO2. Even if just half of that made it into the atmosphere (the other half going to ocean acidification, weathering, and biomass), we'd have something like 1400ppm in the atmosphere, which is a very stuffy room. And that's just one state. Assume Siberia and Canada has just as much or more.

I think if we extracted every last bit of fossil fuels in the ground, we'd have a CO2 level on the order of 10,000ppm and will have measurably reduced oxygen levels as well.

> And there's 5 trillion tons of coal in Alaska

Say what? There is only 909 billion tonnes of proven coal reserves in the entire world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coal_by_country

Right. Only about 1 trillion in proven reserves, a number which often increases over time due to technology and economics and exploration.

I was discussing how much actual coal is there. Coal resources, which is a (relatively) fixed number.

The fellow I was responding to was talking about extracting all the oil and gas from the ground (not just that which is today known with high certainty and both technically and economically viable).

For instance, look at this graph of US proved oil reserves. It has climbed for most of the last 100 years and peaked in 1970 at about 39 billion barrels, declined and has started rising again: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves_in_the_United_Sta... ...but that data only goes until 2012. The reserves have kept climbing, and as of 2017 have now equalled their peak of 39 billion barrels: https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/pdf/table_1....

In other words, technology and economics has improved access to fossil fuels faster than we can burn it.

But it's not like there was a bunch of oil added into the ground. It was there the whole time. Hence why I'm using resources: It's the ultimate limit.

We cannot rely on Peak Oil (or Peak Coal for that matter) to stop our reliance on fossil fuels and the ensuing climate change. We just keep getting better and better at extracting them. Trends in automation of mining do not bode well for the climate, either.

> Right. Only about 1 trillion in proven reserves, a number which often increases over time due to technology and economics and exploration.

I get that, but you are claiming that the unproven reserves of one portion of the US are more than five times the current proven reserves of the entire world. Where is your evidence for that?

> We cannot rely on Peak Oil (or Peak Coal for that matter) to stop our reliance on fossil fuels and the ensuing climate change.

No, we need to stop burning them. That is unrelated to extracting them except for extraction being the first step in the process.

Sorry for not providing the citation right away. Here's the evidence (with discussion and links to source studies) for trillions of tons of coal in Alaska: http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Issues/AlaskaCoal/HowMuch...

In particular, it links to this 2005 USGS study: https://pubs.usgs.gov/dds/dds-077/

> "The combined measured, indicated, inferred, and hypothetical coal resources in the three areas are estimated to be 5,526 billion short tons (5,012 billion metric tons), which constitutes about 87 percent of Alaska’s coal"

The amount of fossil fuel energy in the ground (if we're very clever about extracting it) is absolutely vast. Enough to provide current needs for hundreds or even thousands of years, but to cook the climate and chemically change the atmosphere to that of a stuffy room long before that.

We're just changing climate back to what is was way before us. Current state was created by the organisms who went into the ground. Our turn now.

No – as much oil and gas must be left in the ground as possible.

Depending on how much of a global temperature increase you're willing to tolerate, there are specific limits (carbon budgets) to how much fossil fuels we can burn. This is discussed at length in the IPCC's report: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/chapter/chapter-2/

Why not just spend all the money you were spending on oil/gas finding/extracting/refining and put it into EVs and renewables instead? Then you will be "forced" to adopt EV's even earlier.

Amazon presumably isn't spending on money on oil extraction. However the AWS profits they make from companies that do are probably helping to buy these EVs

There is so much pollution that goes into making those vehicles, and all the waste from the batteries that need to be recycled every 8~10 years. This makes no sense from an environment perspective. You're better off buying older vans, that aren't so old they aren't inefficient, and just keep running those.

Plus you're talking about more growth and selling more products, which is just more waste.

We can't buy ourselves out of environmental disaster. We can't keep consuming. This feels like lipservices because for us to not destroy our planet, we actually need to buy fewer goods, that are more durable/fixable, even if they cost more. It's the opposite of what ever retailer big and small wants.

You've got it backwards. Electric vehicles have more embodied energy / carbon, but use less to operate, particularly if the electricity source is not coal. Delivery vehicles that have a high duty cycle and start/stop often are a great target for BEVs. It's true that with current tech, a plug-in hybrid may still be better from a CO2 perspective, but fleets also care about the lower maintenance costs that could be provided by electric-only vehicles.

More: http://www.cmu.edu/me/ddl/publications/2010-JMD-Shiau-etal-P...

And in general: https://www.cmu.edu/cit/veg/

EVs have much lower lifetime emissions than ICE.

I'd encourage you to read some of the great comments discussing this below https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21019030

When a large business makes any significant investment decision, it has nothing to do with anything else but the perception of increased profit for the business.

Anything else is a side effect, always. If the action can be painted in a way that PR spins propaganda up that the people love or that quantified positive benefits from that PR result in net profits then we have successful alignment as a society (but the motive is never there). Amazon could have done this (or a partial) transition years ago but they didn't because it would have hurt their bottom line. Apparently now, this is more cost effective and the image/optics for the general public is more valuable.

Heck, most small investments big businesses make fit the same model but small investments get much less scrutiny (analysis) and typically give a better bang for the buck to society.

Now as to which is better for the environment... that's a very complicated matter and Amazon isn't concerned about that. If electric vehicles are better than we have proper alignment between goals to strive for in society and business actions. If not then we need to adjust incentives for businesses so they do get us to where we need to be.

Batteries don’t have to be recycled every 8-10 years, nowhere near. If you keep them within temperature and leave a safety margin they’ll outlast the car. There’s already plenty of data for Tesla batteries lasting hundreds of thousands of miles without significant degradation. Look after Lithium Ion batteries and they’re good for 1500 cycles, that’s 300k miles for a 200 mile car, 450k miles for a 300 mile car.

>they’re good for 1500 cycles, that’s 300k miles for a 200 mile car, 450k miles for a 300 mile car

These aren't average cars, they're delivery vehicles meant to be driving rather a lot. Just ball parking here, but 100 miles per day, 6 days a week, 50 weeks a year is 300k miles in 10 years. 8-10 years doesn't seem that off the mark given your numbers.

In the special case of delivery vehicles that applies. But the high mileage also means a phenomenal reduction in carbon emissions and pollution over those 300k miles.

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