Jeff Bezos’s net worth jumped nearly 5% last month after Amazon’s stock hit a record high when the e-commerce leader registered unprecedented demand during the ongoing coronavirus-related lockdowns.
In a developing story, the company is expected to further improve its stock price and strengthen market penetration as it emerges in the transportation field, competing directly with carmakers, package delivery firms and even ride-hailing companies.
To achieve that goal, it will need to build its own logistics ecosystem and invest in electric and autonomous vehicle startups. By making such moves, Amazon could lower its shipping costs to the point that partners like UPS become competitors.
Before the coronavirus outbreak, many self-driving car companies were already experiencing financial difficulties as they had underestimated the cost of developing the necessary technologies. Well funded companies like Amazon will be on the lookout to pick up struggling firms with promising EV and AV potential.
In fact, Amazon has already initiated talks to buy self-driving tech startup Zoox, a deal that would follow sizable investments in automated driving startup, Aurora Innovation, and Rivian, an American producer of electric trucks headquartered in Michigan. Having received investments of more than $2.8 billion from Amazon, Ford and Cox Automotive, Rivian was on track to launch its first truck, the R1T later this year. However, those plans were put on hold in response to the pandemic.
Many AV experts see self-driving technology as “a natural extension” of Amazon’s efforts to build its own logistics network, and could save the firm more than $20 billion a year on shipping costs, according to Morgan Stanley. Amazon is transforming into a “clear competitor” to companies like Tesla and GM, they said, while UPS and FedEx will need to consider options to compete.
Buying Zoox, a start-up working to create a dedicated new autonomous vehicle targeting the robo-taxi market, could potentially open the door for Amazon to compete in the ride-sharing and food delivery industries, rivaling Uber and Lyft. By expanding on Zoox’s technology, the world’s biggest online marketplace could offer discounted ride-sharing for Prime members, a move that could help Amazon attract and keep more customers.