Deutsche Post subsidiary StreetScooter GmbH and Ford-Werke GmbH are entering a partnership for the manufacturing of battery-electric delivery vehicles (EVs).
Deutsche Post DHL Group (DP) has already introduced the electric StreetScooter delivery vehicle in the small van segment, and whereas this was previously only used by the company for its own postal and courier services, it is now being offered to external customers. This move catapulted DP from its traditional role as a key fleet customer for OEMs to becoming a competitor, and invariably piqued the interest of Ford as it could threaten their strong position in the light commercial vehicle market, especially if the uptake of electric delivery vehicles gains momentum. Although Ford is investing $4.5 billion (€4.2 billion) in the development of electric vehicles, it is arguably lagging behind the EV plans of key competitors such as Volkswagen and Renault. This was a primary reason for Ford CEO Mark Field’s replacement.
The chassis of the Ford Transit will provide the technical basis for the larger StreetScooter model that is in the pipeline. It will be equipped with a battery-electric drive train and fitted with a special body construction based on Deutsche Post and DHL Paket specifications.
Ford said in a statement: ‘The start of production is scheduled for July 2017. Before the end of 2018 at least 2,500 vehicles will support the urban delivery traffic of Deutsche Post DHL Group. With this volume, the joint project will become the largest manufacturer of battery-electric medium-duty delivery vehicles in Europe.’
Given the timing of this jointly developed model, it is assumed to be the larger ‘Work XL’ vehicle that StreetScooter has previously announced, expected in early 2018. The Work XL inscription on the number plate of the Transit van in the image accompanying the press release would certainly suggest confirmation of this assumption.
‘I consider this partnership another important boost for electro-mobility in Germany,’ said Jürgen Gerdes, member of the executive board of the Deutsche Post AG. ‘This step emphasises that Deutsche Post is an innovation leader. It will relieve the inner cities [of pollution and noise] and increase the people’s quality of life. We will continue working on [our progress towards] completely carbon neutral CO2-neutral logistics!’
‘E-Mobility and innovative traffic solutions for urban areas are key focuses for us as we transform our business to meet future challenges,’ said Steven Armstrong, Ford group vice president and president Europe, Middle East and Africa. ‘As the leader in commercial vehicles in Europe, this partnership plays perfectly to our strengths, and in StreetScooter and the Deutsche Post DHL Group we have a partner with enormous competence and a worldwide network.’
Ford plans to introduce 13 new EVs globally in the next five years, including a Transit Custom plug-in hybrid, but there is as yet no clear indication as to whether a full electric delivery vehicle based on either the Transit Custom or its larger Transit sibling is in the pipeline. It is therefore certainly conceivable that the new jointly developed vehicle may also be offered directly by Ford as their first foray into fully electric delivery vehicles.
Photograph courtesy of Deutsche Post DHL Group
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