Commercial vans aren’t exciting. But when it comes to electrification, delivery vans specifically are ripe for new technology. Working with Amazon, Rivian has constructed an electric delivery van (EDV) that is quite possibly the most innovative product we’ve seen.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know we like the Ford E-Transit. We’ve reviewed it here, and have created a video here and here talking about it and testing it. We like it because Ford made some intentional decisions to keep cost in check while also making it easy to switch from a gas Transit to an E-Transit.
For example, any upfit that fits on a Transit can easily be installed into E-Transit.
But what if you were designing a van from the ground up for one specific client? If that client was Amazon, you’d need the ultimate package delivery device that can work in all weather and work with a driver of any experience level.
While we haven’t driven the van — yet — we did check out the EDV 700 (for 700 cu-ft of cargo space), and it’s hugely impressive.
The EDV 700 is a front-wheel drive, dual motor electric delivery van with a range of approximately 200 miles. It’s built using the same battery and motor technology that appears in the Rivian R1T pickup truck.
Jon Woodmore, Sr. Direct, Commercial Vehicle Product Line tells us in a walk around that most of the exterior is designed for safety or for easy repairs
For example, there are LED taillights that encompass nearly all of the outside of the rear door. But the company went a step further and made a conscious decision to paint that rear door Amazon blue to add contrast and make it stand out even more if a driver isn’t paying attention.
Sudden stops with a van are a thing, and Americans love keeping their heads buried in their phones.
The rear is also protected by extended plastic that can be easily replaced if there is a fender bender, without damaging a critical component.
While the van just looks like a box — because hey, it’s a van — it’s pleasing face is by design. Rivian wants the van to appear approachable and not intimidating.
Cameras surround the outside of the van, which helps aid in parking, but also enhanced security. The front camera even has a washer nozzle to keep grime and debris from blinding its vision.
The rear cargo area itself is clever. The roll up door is easy to operate and there’s an area specifically for securing a dolly. It looks like it was designed for that purpose, because it was.
The package shelves are lightweight and painted bright to avoiding bumping into them. There’s a plentiful amount of lighting in the cargo area.
Nonslip surfaces abound, but the flooring also assists in quieting in the cargo area.
Granted we weren’t out on the road, but when you get into the back of a cargo van with tons of exposed metal, it tends to echo a ton. It is both apparent and astounding at how quiet the back of the EDV 700 is. There’s no reason to make the cargo area quiet, but the material that Rivian used to make the storage area durable and safe also made it more pleasing on the ears.
The EDV 700 is the bigger of the two vans Rivian will build, and is a bit wider and taller than something like an E-Transit. It doesn’t have the same GVWR as the E-Transit (the Rivian is rated at 9,350 GVWR), but it should be more than plenty to carry the boxes y’all receive on a daily basis.
All of that is very clever, but where the driver does their job is where the Rivian really impresses.
The design of the driver’s seat is such that when you tilt to get out of the seat, your hip lowers enough to get out from under the steering wheel without having to adjust the wheel.
That natural movement also results in your hand being right near the purpose-built phone holder for the Amazon scanner.
Putting the van in park automatically opens the bulkhead door to the back of the van. If the driver puts the van back into gear, the bulkhead automatically closes.
This means the bulkhead door actually gets used, which adds to the safety of the driver, plus helps heat the cabin since the heater only has to heat the front of the van and not the entirety of the cargo area. It also helps reduce the repetition of opening and closing it manually — something drivers probably wouldn’t do.
If the driver walks away from the van, the van automatically locks. But if the passenger door is open — which it can remain — the bulkhead door closes and locks when the van is locked.
All touch points inside are painted in Amazon blue. Places where you’d naturally grab your hand on to are painted blue. It’s an incredibly intuitive way to know what will support your weight and what might not.
When the passenger door is closed, it covers the bottom step which prevents dirt and ice from building up.
That bottom step is also wider than most steps. Instead of having 3 steps, Rivian opted for two but made them wider to make it easier to hit the step and not slip and fall.
You know how sports car journalists praise the Porsche 911 for practically everything; control placement, steering feel, the works? It’s dang near the same thing in this Rivian van.
An entire suite of drivers assist functions are also included with the EDV, from adaptive cruise control to auto braking both front and rear.
“We want drivers to go to work and want to drive these vans,” Woodmore tells us. “It can be as much of a recruiting tool as anything.”
We recently shared with you an actual driver who has taken deliveries in the Rivian EDV, and we recommend giving it a watch. But we have to say we think Rivian really nailed it here.
We did ask Woodmore, “what about other clients?”
“Depending on the usage, a lot could be adapted from here.”
Yes, a delivery van is a delivery van is a delivery van. But there’s always a certain amount of risk patterning with just one company, even one as large as Amazon. Offering two sizes certainly helps.
There’s a bunch of these vans, and the smaller EDV 500, making deliveries now or will be in the near future. They’re being built at the company’s Normal, Indiana factory.
These vans are attractive, clever, and dare we say… cool? It’s fun to see what can happen when you design a vehicle specifically for the needs of one client. It’s the opposite approach than a company like Ford (and Amazon has many Transits making deliveries now), but it’s hard to argue with the results.
If this website and YouTube channel don’t take off, we might have to go into the package delivery business!