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Taking e-mobility into the logistics mainstream

From a small startup to the biggest fleet of electric delivery vehicles. We’re demonstrating how to make e-mobility standard practice in the logistics industry.

In August 2017, Deutsche Post DHL Group and Ford Motor Company presented a new generation of electric delivery vans – the StreetScooter Work XL – and passed yet another milestone on the road to zero emissions logistics. The Work XL joins some 3,400 “sister vans” – the Work and the Work L – already on the streets, creating a complete range of commercial electric vehicles that are perfect for parcel deliveries in urban areas. Add to that over 10,500 e-bikes and e-trikes and we not only have the largest e-fleet in Germany, we also have the biggest fleet of electric delivery vehicles in the industry.

We want to help e-mobility break through.

More parcels, more emissions?

We’re taking e-mobility into the logistics mainstream – and for good reason. We believe that the logistics industry has a special responsibility to the environment and humankind, to minimize air and noise pollution. We are also convinced that the booming e-commerce business doesn’t have to mean more carbon emissions and noise. That’s why we’re working to become the first logistics company to reduce all logistics-related emissions to net zero by the year 2050. This e-mobility offensive is all part of that “Mission 2050.” We plan to replace our entire mail and parcel delivery fleet in the mid-term with electric vehicles that are charged with electricity generated from renewable energy sources.

And it goes beyond that. By designing and manufacturing commercial electric vehicles that are ripe for the real world, we want to help e-mobility break through and become more accessible to businesses and consumers around the world. This wasn’t necessarily our goal when we embarked on this journey, but demand for our StreetScooters has been so high, we’ve had to ramp up our production capacity.

How did we get here?

Deutsche Post DHL Group operates one of the largest vehicle fleets in Germany and has thousands more around the world. We knew early on that we would have to do something equally big if we were going to reduce our carbon emissions while handling ever increasing volumes. And since the market offered not a single electric vehicle that could be operated economically, we ventured out on our own, partnering with RWTH Aachen University and StreetScooter GmbH in 2011 to create a completely new vehicle that meets the specific requirements of daily mail and parcel delivery. We wanted an economical, emissions-free vehicle that was robust enough to handle heavy loads, stop-and-go environments and operate up to 300 days a year.

After a one-year development phase, we had an innovative electric car specifically designed for mail and parcel delivery and ready for testing in day-to-day operations. How did we do that so quickly? Simply put: close cooperation and invaluable input from all sides. The first model – the StreetScooter Work – was based on proven electric drive technology and expert insights from Deutsche Post DHL delivery staff. That way, we not only had a state-of-the-art motor with a maximum range of 80 kilometers, we also had a vehicle that met the precise needs of the people who will be driving it. A win-win situation for all.

In 2013, we put 50 pilot vehicles into Deutsche Post’s operations at a number of locations across Germany. The results were convincing and by mid-year we decided to expand the project and demonstrate to the world how we could deliver carbon-free logistics to an urban area. We began switching our mail and parcel fleet in Bonn, Germany – where Deutsche Post DHL Group is headquartered – to electric vehicles, with the goal of making the city a model for carbon-free delivery. It was a world first, and at the time we hoped to serve as a role model for other cities and regions. By the end of 2015, we had over 140 electric vehicles on the road, which lowers our carbon emissions by over 500 tons per year.

The family grows

In 2016, it was time for the StreetScooter family to grow. The four-cubic-meter load capacity of the Work is ideal for first and last-mile operations in many urban areas, but insufficient in others. By equipping our proven Work platform with a stronger engine and the latest lithium-ion battery technology, we developed the “Work L” model with an eight-cubic-meter cargo hold – enough to handle as many as 150 parcels – and a maximum load capacity of 1,000 kilograms.

The most recent addition to the family is the Work XL – a joint venture between Deutsche Post DHL Group and Ford Motor Company that was unveiled in August 2017. The Work XL is equipped with an electric drivetrain running on a modular battery system and a body designed and built to our specifications. This “e-van” has 20 cubic meters of space – enough to hold over 200 parcels – and a range of 80 to 200 kilometers. It is not only much larger than its sister vans, it also features a different body: a Ford Transit cab with access to the load area and both a tailgate opening and curb-side sliding door for additional access. Each Work XL has the potential to save around five metric tons of carbon and 1,900 liters of diesel fuel each year. Right now, the plan is to build 2,500 of these e-vans by the end of 2018.

Partnerships make the difference

Let me be clear: We wouldn’t be where we are today without strong partnerships with proven innovators. When I joined forces with Deutsche Post DHL Group in 2011, I knew we had a viable technology and the world’s leading logistics company knew they had real, game-changing applications for it. Together we made sure that those first 50 test vehicles met our specific needs. I’m absolutely convinced that our close cooperation and common goals are the reasons we were able to move from prototype to series production in three short years.

We wouldn’t be where we are today without strong partnerships with proven innovators.

For the larger Work XL, we needed a new platform and therefore a new partner, and we found the ideal partner in Ford Motor Company – the leader in commercial vehicles in Europe. Ford shares our desire to drive e-mobility forward. They understand the important role it will play in all of our lives, and they too want to leverage their company’s strengths to help make our world greener. With a common vision and goals, we were able to combine our knowledge and experience to get the Work XL ready for production in just two short months. It just goes to show that you can really get things done quickly when you work well with great partners.

e-pioneering the future

The Work XL is simply the latest milestone on our road to zero emissions logistics. We’ve already ramped up manufacturing of our StreetScooter vehicles and will double our production capacity from 10,000 to as many as 20,000 vehicles in the next year. We’re manufacturing e-bikes and e-trikes and have replaced up to 60% of our inner-city vehicles in some European cities with these emissions-free cargo bikes. Our innovative City Hub concept, which features the DHL Cubicycle – a customized cargo bicycle that can carry a container with up to 125 kilograms – is being piloted in Germany and the Netherlands and has great potential to help us progress toward zero emissions in 2050.

And this year we also began offering this innovative technology to others. All StreetScooter models – including the “Work S” (e-bike) and “Work M” (e-trike) are now available for purchase.

What began as a small startup at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, is now a powerful engine for e-mobility. We aim to become the market leader in green logistics, and our electric vehicles are going to help drive us there. The success of the StreetScooter, our carbon-free delivery project in Bonn, and other emissions-lowering projects, have shown that e-mobility is not only ripe for our mail and parcel delivery business, it is ready for the logistics mainstream.

5 Comments

  • Mike

    Having joined the company in August 2017, I am delighted to learn that I work for a company that takes its environmental responsibilities so seriously. Well done!

  • Lama

    I’m glad that DHL is a part of the environmental development !

  • B Z

    Sehr gut!
    Dhl macht hier im Bereich der “last mile” alles richtig.
    Was jetzt noch fehlt z. B. Gas-Betriebe LKWs anstelle der Diesel-LKWs zwischen den Verteilzentren.
    Weiter so 👍😊

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