DHL to Use Electric Ford Delivery Vans in Germany

The service industry is starting to see the benefits of electrically-powered heavy duty vehicles.

Sean Gallup, Getty Images News

On Wednesday, Ford announced a program in cooperation with Deutsch Post DHL Group and StreetScooter to integrate a series of electrically- powered delivery vans as part of a pre-production test. 150 Ford Transit vans will be converted by Streetscooter into battery-powered electric vehicles, and renamed "Work XL." The body will be altered to DHL's specifications for the purpose of parcel delivery. 

These vans will be used to supplement DHL current fleet of urban delivery vehicles in Germany, and will pave the way for an additional 2,500 Work XL electric delivery vans by the end of 2018. The Work XL will be made available for purchase by interested commercial customers. They will have over 20 cubic meters (700 cubic feet) of storage. The battery output will vary between 30 and 90 kWh, which will allow for a range between 50 and 125 miles. Estimated charging time is three hours.

According to Ford's announcement, these 2,500 vans may prevent a total of 12,500 tons of CO2 emissions each year, as well as save more than 1.25 million gallons of diesel.

Ford and DHL aren't the only ones going electric in the shipping industry. Keen to capitalize on the budding market, Mercedes announced an electric semi truck for use in urban environments back in February, available in flatbed, box, and refrigerator styles with a maximum range of 120 miles and a payload limit of 12.8 tons. It may have to compete with the upcoming Tesla semi truck, due to be revealed in September—though Daimler has shown no concern over the upstart American company's exploding popularity.

Likewise, Stateside is a Californian startup aiming to occupy the same market segment with its Chanje V0870, with an estimated 100-mile range and a maximum payload of three tons. Without a major parcel or postage service partnership, however, the Chanje van may prove hard to sell to electric-skeptical American buyers.