When Andreas Holzmann accelerates at the traffic light, you do not have the feeling of sitting in a pickup truck. "Sometimes I even pull off a Porsche for the first few meters," he says and laughs. In his trunk lie letters, small and large parcels. The car accelerates, you can hear only a slight whirr.
Holzmann works at Deutsche Post as a delivery agent and delivers the most diverse shipments on Lake Starnberg south of Munich. For three years now, he does not drive with the diesel, but with the Streetscooter, a Sprinter with electric drive.
In Starnberg, half of the delivery vehicles are now powered by electricity. In Germany, around 9,000 Streetscooter electric cars are used by the Deutsche Post DHL Group. The manufacturer was founded in 2010 by an establishment of the RWTH Aachen University and has been part of the Deutsche Post since 2014. The company produces three different sizes of transporters - so that postcards as well as armchairs or mattresses are delivered.
Deutsche Post DHL wants to get greener. The aim is to save 70 percent of the emissions from parcel delivery by 2025, and by 2050, even all logistics-related emissions are to be reduced to zero. For this, the company is investing in a fleet of electric bikes - two and three-wheelers - and electric transporters. With this one wants to make "a positive contribution to the local air quality", as it is called with the enterprise. At 32 percent you are already. And others in the logistics industry have also proclaimed a sustainable strategy: at Hermes, they are called "Urban Blue", at Dachser "Emission Free Delivery" and at UPS "Green Logistics". And like Deutsche Post DHL, DPD and Dachser are increasingly turning to power-operated sprinters and trucks.
If the logistics industry gets greener, that's good for urban air quality. Nitrogen oxide levels were too high in 57 cities in 2018, with the worst in Stuttgart being Darmstadt, Darmstadt and Munich. In addition, most diesel-powered delivery vehicles still clog the roads along with other cars. In a study, the German Institute for Urban Studies relies on figures that more than one-third of all car journeys across Germany are accounted for by commercial traffic. "On weekdays, this value rises to just under 40 percent of the number of trips," says the study. And a growing proportion of it is caused by the delivery traffic. According to forecasts, every fifth purchase could take place by 2020, the industry is growing. This may mean that fewer people go shopping by car, but also that more and more trucks and vans are traveling.
Driving bans make you inventive
But now there are more and more driving bans for diesel vehicles in the cities. As a result, logistics companies are rethinking. "The topic has gained importance for companies over the past three, four years and in the discussion of driving bans in inner cities," says Petra K. Schäfer, director of the Research Lab for Urban Transport (ReLUT) at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences.
What Deutsche Post does with the street scooter is obvious: the vehicle remains the same, only the drive changes. "So much has not changed for us, except that we no longer have to drive to refuel," says Zusteller Holzmann. The street scooters now come with a load so far that they can be used not only in the city, but also on overland routes. Holzmann rarely travels more than 30 kilometers on his route. "When I leave in the morning with 100 percent battery, in the evening there are still 80 percent left," he says.
But cars remain cars. No matter whether they use electricity or diesel - they contribute to congestion in inner cities and take up a lot of space. And although many serious studies conclude that electric cars on balance have a better carbon footprint than diesel vehicles, the production of batteries is and remains energy intensive.