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Amazon kindles interest in green gas fleet

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Tech giant Amazon.com has ordered seven hundred trucks that run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as it attempts to shift its fleet away from vehicles running on more polluting fuels.

The Washington-based multinational saw its share price almost double in 2020 in conjunction with Covid-19 leading to an increase in delivery activity, culminating in a 38% increase in yearly sales for Amazon.

However this higher activity also lead to higher pollution emissions from the Amazon fleet. Furthemore, delivery vehicles have an oversized carbon footprint - US data suggesting that freight vehicles which are heavy vehicles make up less than 5% of the total road fleet, but contribute 20% of transport emissions.

The gas-powered vehicle order also comes on the heels of Amazon's order of 100 000 electric vans from Rivian Automotive in 2019. While electric powered vehicles are less suited to long-haul freight services than their diesel or gas powered counterparts, they are a feasible green alternative for last-mile delivery services.

Although natural gas is still a fossil fuel, emissions are approximately 27% less compared to diesel fuel. Additionally, CNG vehicles can run on renewable natural gas, including biomethane from crop and waste, and bio synthetic natural gas. As such, delivery trucks running on CNG can serve as a transition point to net-zero fleet emissions operations - a goal aligned with Amazon's 2040 carbon neutral ambitions.