Fotocredit: DHL
28. June 2017

Technological change: don’t hesitate, act now!

How DHL is becoming a trailblazer for future technology

If the future doesn’t turn up, you just make your own. And if the market does not provide the products necessary for technological change, you have to adapt. What logistics company DHL is doing in the area of electromobility could inspire banks on their way into the digital future. Here’s how.

Progress in bits and pieces

Once before, the electromobile future of logistics seemed just around the corner. In 2011 Volkswagen presented ‘eT’, the prototype of an electrically powered delivery vehicle. A joint effort with DHL, ‘eT’ had all the features a delivery service could wish for. It could even follow the delivery agent by itself, when he was walking from door to door. Unfortunately, ‘eT’ was never heard from again. At the time, a possible launching date of 2020 was communicated, but obviously the eco-vehicle wasn’t all that high on Volkswagen’s list of priorities.

And with no other e-vehicles showing up on the streets, DHL seemed to be in dire straits. After all, with their eco-program ‘GoGreen’ the company had pledged to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050. But maybe the strategy of ‘think big’ was just not working in this case, because DHL found the solution on a smaller scale: the StreetScooter, which has been around since 2011.

Say hello to the StreetScooter

For DHL the StreetScooter was perfect: quick as a flash and quiet as a mouse, the delivery vehicle can carry a maximum load of 650 kilograms and manage at least 300 stops per day. The electric motor with its 41 hp has a range of 80 kilometres with one battery charge. When ‘eT’ showed no signs of ever leaving the workshop, DHL seized the opportunity. Tests in 2014 convinced the logistics giant to take over the StreetScooter GmbH wholesale. At the end of 2017 a fleet of 10,000 StreetScooters will be in use, with a planned yearly production of 20,000 units. The seafood company Deutsche See has already ordered 80 scooters with a cooling unit – after bowing out of a deal with Volkswagen when the car manufacturer broke environmental pledges.

In June 2017 news agencies reported that DHL and Ford are developing a medium-sized, e-powered delivery van, with StreetScooter GmbH playing a major role. By 2018 2,500 of these vehicles should be in use.

So far, so good, so ecologically sound. But this story is only on the surface about delivery vehicles and the environment. The rise of DHL into the ranks of car manufacturers is an example of how a company can overcome technological obstacles by going down an unusual path – and be successful at the same time.

No need to reinvent the wheel

By adapting an already existing technology, DHL is able to

  • quickly use a workable logistics solution,
  • obtain suitable vehicles at a low cost, independent of big car manufacturers,
  • attain a major image boost as an ecologically-minded company.

Other industry sectors feel the immense pressure to modernize as well. In the world of finance the need for digitisation is one of the great challenges ahead. The example of DHL shows that the solutions needed are often already available and that they can be effective as well as efficient. By seizing these opportunities, the necessary changes can be initiated at once – with no need for reinventing the wheel.

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