DUESSELDORF -- German logistics group Deutsche Post DHL Group is expanding its foray into electric delivery vans, signing Ford Motor as a components supplier for a new line of larger vehicles.
The move is a blow to Volkswagen Group, whose CEO Matthias Mueller said last October that he was annoyed "beyond measure" that Deutsche Post was pashing out its use of VW Caddy vans and had not approached VW's commercial vehicles division to jointly develop EV vans.
Deutsche Post initially developed an electric minivan dubbed Streetscooter for its own operations to avoid inner-city emissions after growth in online shopping resulted in increased parcel deliveries. But in April it took on carmakers by unveiling plans to step up production and sell to other delivery firms.
For the larger van, Ford will supply vehicle technology based on the Transit model, with Deutsche Post keeping assembly, distribution and sales in-house, a Germany-based Ford spokesman told Reuters.
The start of production is scheduled for July and before the end of 2018 at least 2,500 vehicles will support Deutsche Post's urban delivery traffic, Ford said. "With this volume, the joint project will become the largest manufacturer of battery-electric medium-duty delivery vehicles in Europe," the automaker said in a statement.
Deutsche Post builds the smaller van in Aachen and is adding another site for the Transit-based van in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
The new model is part of a plan to double annual output to 20,000 vans.
Advances in manufacturing software are allowing auto industry newcomers such as Deutsche Post, Google and start-ups to tap suppliers to design, engineer and test new vehicle concepts without hiring thousands of engineering staff or investing billions in tooling and factories.
Deutsche Post, which is also building a country-wide network of maintenance and repair shops, wants a fleet of at least 2,500 of the new vans on the road by the end of 2018, it said.
The postal services group decided to build its own vans after it could not agree on a wider supply contract with established vehicle makers.