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Amazon and Rivian dish details on their new electric delivery van

The purpose-built electric van will hit the road in 2021.

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They clay will give way to production metal next year.

Amazon/Jordan Stead

Rivian may be best known for its upcoming R1T electric pickup truck, but Amazon may give the startup the most exposure yet. After detailing plans of a partnership between the online retail giant and the electric vehicle maker, the two surprised with plans to create a purpose-built electric van for Amazon deliveries.

On Tuesday, both companies gave us a closer look at what's going on behind the scenes to bring this package delivery vehicle to life, and it looks like work is progressing at a stupendous pace. Photos show the van in the full-size clay model stages and it looks just as cutesy as it did in previous rendering shown.

All of this work comes after Amazon spent 18 months looking for a new vehicle that would suit its needs the best. However, in the end, the company decided a purpose-built EV was the best solution. Amazon invested an undisclosed amount in Rivian this time last year, and months later, announced plans for this unnamed delivery van.

Amazon and Rivian worked closely with delivery service partners to make the vehicle a breeze for those who will drive them. The cockpit will include a totally digital instrument cluster, central screen with Alexa built-in (obviously) and Amazon's logistics management. Drivers won't need any external devices for mapping and Alexa will handle all voice commands to keep workers from entering information manually.

In the process, it gives a startup like Rivian immense credibility. Aside from the Amazon partnership, Ford will also borrow a Rivian platform to build Lincoln's first electric vehicle. The company plans to launch the R1T later this year, followed by the R1S electric SUV next year.

But at Amazon, the solution is grander. The retailer Climate Pledge aims to meet agreements set in the Paris Climate Accord 10 years early in 2040. Amazon said this fleet of Rivian-built vans will take millions of metric tons of carbon out of the air by 2030.

We'll first see the vans hit the road in 2021 with a deployment of 10,000. Then, a total of 100,000 of them will be on the streets delivering packages by 2030.

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