NORMAL, Ill. (WLS) -- Amazon is hitting the road with a new fleet of custom-made electric delivery vans.
It's all part of the e-commerce giant's plan to reach net-zero carbon by 2040, and the company is relying on Rivian to help meet that goal.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced in 2019 that he invested more than a billion dollars in Rivian to design and build these vans.
Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe said he started the company to make an impact and the partnership with Amazon to tackle sustainability was the right fit.
"Amazon has a deep commitment to their climate pledge and a deep commitment to carbon neutrality," Scaringe said. "And to get there, solving the transportation problem is really a big, big focus."
The vans are manufactured at Rivian's plant in Normal, Illinois, about two hours south of Chicago.
Drivers will start and end their days at area fulfillment centers, charging the vehicles overnight for the next day's shift. No gas stops needed.
"This is just a really, really great example of those goals actually turning into a reality," said Umit Madan, Amazon's Vice President of Transportation.
The blue-colored vans are going green in Chicago and more than a dozen cities across the U.S., including Nashville, St. Louis, Dallas, Seattle, and Phoenix.
Thursday's nationwide rollout consists of a few hundred electric vans, but billionaire Jeff Bezos wants to see 100,000 on the road by the end of the decade. Scaringe said he's even more ambitious about that milestone.
"In terms of hitting the overall goal of 100,000, we absolutely need to do better than 2030," Scaringe said. "So, we're working really hard to accelerate as fast as we can produce these. And having an amazing partner in Amazon, they're hungry to get more."
Drivers have worked alongside Rivian and Amazon executives while designing and testing the new fleet, giving feedback during test-runs. And Amazon says the vans were also built with safety in mind, giving drivers more visibility with exterior cameras, along with automatic emergency breaking and collision-warning technology.
"It makes me feel good because a lot of times we're going through neighborhoods and there are children out playing," said Amazon Delivery Associate Darin Watkins. "The other regular vans burn off so much gas, too. So, it just feels good being part of a solution."
Amazon said it expects to have thousands of Rivian vans in more than 100 cities by the end of this year.
"Our focus right now is really on sustainability and helping make the planet a better place," Madan said, "and we think that's really what these vehicles are about."