Deutsche Post, known globally as DHL, is one of the world’s largest parcel delivery services. As part of its long term business plan, it has developed three zero emissions vehicles — an electric delivery van, an electric trike, and an electric bicycle — tailored to what is called the “last mile” sector of the distribution network.
That’s the distance that remains after goods are manufactured, shipped across the ocean, transported from the port of entry to distribution centers, hauled cross country, and finally to local wholesaler distributors. Getting those products from the distributor to retail facilities is what DHL specializes in doing.
Now DHL is getting ready to market its electric delivery van, called the Streetscooter, to other businesses that want to lower their carbon footprint. On Friday, a spokesman for the company announced that deliveries would begin in 2017. “We want to start sales to third parties from next year,” he told German news magazine Der Spiegel.
The Streetscooter has a range of 120 kilometers or about 70 miles. While that may not seem like a lot, it is enough for the short stop-and-start urban delivery routes such trucks are asked to do most of the time. The company says its electric delivery van slashes maintenance costs by 50% and repair costs by up to 80%. Those are the sorts of numbers that make fleet managers smile.
Diesel engines may have good fuel economy, but repair and maintenance costs often wipe out any advantage gained in lower fuel costs. Plus, electricity is still cheaper than diesel fuel, even with today’s low oil prices.
DHL claims the Streetscooter can be adapted to each customer’s needs, including a battery management system that is configured precisely for how the truck will be used, maximizing efficiency and lowering emissions as much as possible. Body and drivetrain components are designed for easy interchangeability, further lowering maintenance costs.
DHL has also figured a way to include customer branding on the hood, sides, and steering wheel. Why give Ford or Mercedes free advertising while your employees make deliveries using their vehicles? The Streetscooter lets customers advertise their own business. It also helps identify them as a company that uses vehicles with no tailpipe emissions — a distinct marketing plus.
“Last mile” deliveries today rely almost exclusively on diesel-powered trucks. Replacing them with zero-emissions vehicles could be an important step in curbing global carbon emissions. (For more on that, you can also see: “What Is Tesla’s Path To Truck & Bus Domination?“)