Amazon just ordered 20,000 new delivery vans, and they will be made at the expanded Mercedes-Benz plant in South Carolina.
The new $500-million automotive plant in North Charleston opened Wednesday and the company announced the huge order of Amazon-branded vans at the opening ceremony, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
The world’s largest retailer announced in June that it wants people to create their own small delivery companies, using Amazon-branded vans, to help expand the company’s delivery service around the country, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president for worldwide operations, said the new vans should be done and on the road within a year, according to the Post and Courier.
“I know we initially said 5,000 vans, and I know you guys have been working like crazy so I hope you won’t be too upset with this, but we’ve decided we’re actually going to need 20,000 vans,” Clark said at the plant opening Wednesday, the Post reported.
The Seattle Times reported Amazon initially thought it would order 4,500 vans for the new delivery program. But the company, which is based in Seattle, told the Times that it has already received more than 10,000 applications from people who want to run their own Amazon delivery services around the country.
An Amazon spokeswoman told the newspaper the company hopes to have its first 100 delivery service company set up by the end of the year.
Amazon will not actually own the trucks, but companies will lease the Sprinter vans after they have approval and training from the retailer, according to the Times.
South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster was on hand at the opening Wednesday. In a tweet, he said, “We couldn’t be more excited that Mercedes-Benz Vans has chosen to expand operations and start manufacturing their all-new Sprinter van right here in South Carolina.”
According to a press release from Daimler North America, which owns Mercedes-Benz, the new North Charleston plant starts with 900 employees and the company plans to grow the workforce to 1,300 by the end of 2020.
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting