A brand new Amazon “walk-in” delivery truck is seen in Chicago, Illinois, June 28, 2020. REUTERS/PJ Huffstutter

LOS ANGELES/CHICAGO — Amazon.com is launching a brand new fleet of larger, boxier vans like these favored by rival bundle carriers UPS and FedEx, because it fights to repair widespread pandemic-fueled supply delays that despatched prospects into the arms of opponents like Walmart.

The world’s largest on-line retailer ordered greater than 2,200 heavy-duty Utilimaster “walk-in” supply vans from Shyft Group, a Michigan-based speciality car firm, an Amazon spokeswoman informed Reuters. The corporate declined to say how lots of the autos have been despatched to Amazon supply contractors, or the place they might be deployed.

Amazon is beneath stress to make good on one- and two-day deliveries promised to prospects who subscribe to its $119 annual Prime service. Orders for meals, computer systems, toys and train gear surged after states issued stay-at-home orders to battle the pandemic, overwhelming Amazon’s community and including days and even weeks to supply occasions.

Drivers assigned to the brand new vans confirmed Reuters coaching supplies from Wisconsin-based security and compliance consultancy J.J. Keller & Associates, which confirmed that Amazon is a consumer. The Shyft Group didn’t reply to requests for remark.

One of many new Amazon vans was seen not too long ago working in Chicago, based on a Reuters reporter. Coaching is beneath approach within the Los Angeles space, drivers mentioned.

Whereas Amazon bought the autos final yr, the branded vans have been parked for months in places round the US, together with in Amazon heaps in New Jersey and California dairy nation. The corporate declined to state why it waited so lengthy to roll out the brand new fleet.

Drivers acquainted with the new vehicles mentioned they’ll carry extra and larger packages than the Mercedes-Benz, Fiat Chrysler, and Ford vans Amazon contractors dispatch across the nation.

Two drivers, who declined to be named for worry of retaliation, opted to not swap to the brand new autos as a result of they’re heavier and harder to maneuver than Amazon vans.

Amazon got here beneath hearth final yr for failing to correctly practice drivers who work for its fast-growing community of supply companions. ProPublica, BuzzFeed and different information shops revealed reviews detailing Amazon van accidents that resulted in accidents and deaths.

Amazon suspended its upstart Amazon Delivery program for non-Amazon packages in June to prioritize deliveries to its personal prospects.

Amazon declined to say whether or not the brand new fleet can be used to restart that service, which competes instantly with UPS and FedEx.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles and PJ Huffstutter in Chicago; Enhancing by Nick Zieminski)

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