Balancing climate and cost
StreetScooter is already the leading provider of electric vehicles in Germany, specifically providing solutions for “last mile” deliveries. A remarkable feat as the company is only eight years old. Of course there is a big market as the Deutsche Post has declared that it’s aiming for a nearby future with an emission free delivery fleet. But more simply put the StreetScooter is a great example of a product meeting a more or less latent demand. As German authorities a few years ago made it very clear that emissions from the transport sector has to drastically decrease, electrical transport vehicles suddenly came into everyone’s focus.
There was one big obstacle though, as it some eight years ago didn’t exist an affordable way to build small, durable electric transport vehicles that could sell at a reasonable price. This in part depended on the lack of good enough batteries, but worse was that no one had figured out how to build them in an efficient and low cost manner. This is what the founders of the StreetScooter set out to accomplish. They also targeted to, by using recyclable materials, making the vehicle light, tough, adaptable and efficient.
The company started in 2010 as a co-operation between innovators and researchers at the University of Aachen, trying to develop a delivery truck for the Swiss postal services. In the first 18 months they’ve learned how to make production more effective than ever, by finding strategic partners that already had the know-how in the different parts of a lean production line. Other partners contributed with the IT solutions needed or the production hardware. They also looked at the assembly of the vehicle as being a part of a production flow, where each part of the production line is communicating with the next.
Compared to other automotive production lines, Streetscooter has today cut production costs by almost half. They could for example cut the research and development cycle periods by half when having an innovative approach to design. This also led to a viable design for a modular architecture of their vehicles. Even if the company today manufactures everything from electric bikes to larger transport vans, the production design follows the same ideas and engineering templates. The production is also scalable and can be modified according to their customers needs, as the production line itself is modular.
In 2014 Deutsche Post bought the company, ensuring a market big enough to develop the cost-effectiveness that comes with mass production.
Apart from being able to develop and produce the StreetScooter at a reasonable price, Deutsche post also provided a lot of input on how to build the vehicle to meet the needs of everyday use. For example during 2015 as many as 100 StreetScooter test units were constantly in service, being evaluated in such things as execution, agility, loading procedures, software upgrades and much more.
After 2014, StreetScooter aimed to supply non-emission delivery solutions solely for Deutsche Posts services. This has now changed. With a soon to be production ability of 2.000 units a year, the company announced in early spring of 2018 that it’s aiming to commercialise its products on a wider scale. With the apparent success in Germany, there is a huge market for sustainable “last mile delivery” vehicles – to begin with all throughout Europe.
The StreetScooter is already out on the streets in a fairly large number. In the beginning of this year it was estimated that 5,500 StreetScooter units were delivering letters and packages, all running on electricity taken from renewable sources.
An eco-friendly success based on a modern, innovative engineering in all parts of the production. From the drawing board all the way to units in service, it’s all lean, clean and green.