Amazon invests in an electric aircraft maker to further its climate goals

Beta Technologies' aircraft could handle some of Amazon's deliveries.

Beta Technologies

Amazon's climate investments now included electric air transportation, not just electric vans. The online shopping giant (along with Fidelity, RedBird Capital and other backers) has invested in Beta Technologies, an electric aircraft maker whose Alia eVTOL aircraft could be key to meeting Amazon's target of net zero carbon emissions by 2040.

Fidelity led the $368 million round. Amazon didn't say how much it contributed to Beta, although it has already invested in hydrogen-powered aircraft (ZeroAvia) and net-zero fuel (Infinium).

Alia can carry 1,500 pounds of cargo (about three cargo pallets, Amazon adds) or six people with a range of 250 nautical miles. While Amazon hasn't said exactly how it would use the aircraft, its focus on cargo suggests Alia would be used for short-hop deliveries that would otherwise require a small conventional aircraft or truck. Beta already has orders from UPS for small and mid-sized cargo trips, while United Therapeutics and Blade Urban Air Mobility plan to respectively use Alia for organ transport and small-scale passenger flights.

Amazon's investment won't realistically pan out until at least 2024, when Beta expects to deliver its first aircraft. However, the company's investments in EVs have so far borne fruit — Amazon's Rivian funding from 2019 led to electric vans that are already making deliveries. The Beta investment may well lead to practical solutions, even if they take a few years to arrive.