Electric mail delivery van based on Ford Transit chassis, by Deutsche Post StreetScooter with FordEnlarge Photo
Deutsche Post, the German mail service, has long hoped to replace its fleet of 30,000 internal-combustion delivery vans with electric vehicles.
In 2014, it bought the company Street Scooter, which has since built thousands of small car-sized electric delivery vans.
Now Deutsche Post has announced it is partnering with Ford to put a larger all-electric van into production, based on the Transit van chassis and cab.
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The Ford Transit chassis will be fitted with an all-electric drivetrain, along with a van body developed to meet the postal service's specific requirements.
This isn't just an announcement of a development project: production is scheduled to start next month.
By the end of 2018, Deutsche Post said, it expects to have at least 2,500 all-electric medium-duty vans on German roads.
2011 Ford Transit Connect Electric, introduced at 2010 Chicago Auto ShowEnlarge Photo
That would make the joint project between Ford and Deutsche Post the largest maker of electric vehicles in that commercial-truck segment, it said.
Ford has not produced any electric trucks under its own name, though it had a short and ill-fated U.S. collaboration with Azure Dynamics, which built several hundred all-electric conversions of the previous generation small urban Transit Connect van in 2011 and 2012.
Azure ultimately filed for bankruptcy, leaving owners stranded.
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(Crucially, those vehicles were titled under the Azure Dynamics brand, which limited Ford's warranty obligations.)
Deutsche Post, meanwhile, is significantly expanding its role as a developer and producer of all-electric vans.
It now has more than 2,500 of the smaller Street Scooter van on the roads, and that subsidiary is gearing up to become a major producer, targeting more than 20,000 units a year.
It is not limiting its customers to the German postal service that owns it.
Deutsche Post said it has already sold some Street Scooter electric vans to outside entities, and interest from potential buyers is surging.
The company will build various different versions in a plant in Aachen, along with another site in North Rhine-Westphalia.
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The new project builds on that success, with the company positioning itself as "an innovation leader."
The project with Ford to develop the larger van "will relieve the inner cities and increase the people's quality of life," said Jürgen Gerdes, an executive board member for Deutsche Post AG.
"We will continue working on completely carbon neutral CO2-neutral logistics!"