DPD “driving forward with electro-mobility”
DPD Germany has announced that is continuing to “drive forward” with its use of electrically-powered parcel delivery vehicles. In a statement issued yesterday (1 December), DPD gave an update on its Elena delivery vehicle, which is now operating in Stuttgart.
The Elena is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van which has been converted into a plug-in hybrid with a retrofit kit (hence its nickname: in German, ‘Elena’ is an abbreviation for ‘electrical retrofit kit’).
The vehicle travels to its designated delivery area using its conventional diesel drive, and then switches to electric power when it is delivering the parcels.
The vehicle’s battery gives it a range on electrical power of up to 50km, and is charged overnight using a conventional power socket at DPD’s parcel sorting centre in Ludwigsburg. The kit for retrofitting has been developed by a regional consortium, including among others the Huber Group from Mühlhausen im Täle, Esslingen University of Applied Sciences and Lauer & Weiss GmbH in Fellbach.
“For the first time this novel retrofit kit gives us the opportunity to switch to electro-mobility with the vehicle class which is most popular among parcel services,” commented Peter Hirsch, Transport Manager at DPD in Ludwigsburg.
Gerd Seber, Group Manager Sustainability & Innovation, added: “In contrast to purely electric vehicles, the hybrid drive now enables DPD to make emissions-free deliveries at a greater range. That gives us significantly more flexibility and opens up entirely new possibilities of use in making local, emissions-free deliveries.”
Within the Stuttgart conurbation DPD in Ludwigsburg is already using eight fully electrical vehicles as part of an everyday practical test. However, there are limitations on the application of these Vito-E-Cell vehicles from Mercedes-Benz in terms of range and load capacity – which is why the hybrid vehicles and the retrofit kits are important.
The DPD statement continued: “Emissions-free delivery operations don’t just conserve the environment, in future terms they also have operational advantages compared to conventional delivery vehicles. For example, in inner-city areas with heavy traffic density DPD expects greater restrictions on access in future – for example because of the problems experienced in Stuttgart with particulates – and these restrictions could be overcome by fully electrical delivery operations.
“Since December 2014, an exemption in Germany’s driving licence regulations has offered concrete economic benefits in the use of electro-mobility: in comparison to conventional 4.2 tonne models, plug-in hybrids can be driven with the generally available Class B driving licence. Because of their higher parcel load capacity 4.2 tonne models enable more efficient delivery operations, but because conventionally powered models require a Class C1 driving licence, use of these 4.2 tonne models is very restricted among parcel services.”
DPD’s Hirsch added: “As a first step DPD intends to use the Elena model on the basis of a 3.5 t Sprinter for the purpose of collecting experience.
“At the same time we’re thinking about retrofitting a 4.2 t Sprinter. We expect the retrofitting to pay for itself within four years, which means that for the first time the use of electric drive systems is becoming a viable economic option for us. In contrast, with the models which have been used so far it has not been possible to offset the higher purchase price by lower operating costs.”