Mercedes-Benz Vans and Hermes concluded a strategic partnership agreement to develop technologies and services for the vehicle fleet operated by the retail and logistics service provider. With this, the strategic partnership announced in March was made official. Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Hanjo Schneider, executive board member of the Otto Group in the services segment and chairman of the supervisory board of Hermes Europe GmbH, signed the agreement at a Mercedes-Benz branch in Hamburg. Starting in 2018, Hermes Germany will begin to put into service 1,500 Mercedes-Benz electric parcel delivery vans.
At the ceremony for the signing of the contract, the companies announced further details of their partnership. After launching the pilot phase in Hamburg and Stuttgart, which will commence in early 2018, the companies plan to expand their collaboration to metropolitan areas throughout Germany. This cooperation extends well beyond the mere operation of battery-powered vehicles. It also implies the tandem development of a concept for efficient charging infrastructure in Hermes logistics centres as well as IT services for optimal control of the electric fleet.
In addition, the partners plan to develop comprehensive system solutions to increase efficiency throughout the entire delivery process. These include automatic cargo-space systems to expedite the process of loading and unloading parcels. In addition, Mercedes-Benz Vans will support Hermes with special leasing deals – including deals for service partners contracted by Hermes – to help modernise the delivery fleet.
“Today’s van customers need more than just cargo space on four wheels. They need vehicles that are optimally adapted to their intended use. These include not only low-emission and emission-free drives but also intelligent solutions that extend beyond the vehicle itself. This collaboration with Hermes, which involves the deployment of 1,500 Mercedes-Benz electric vans, is another step towards the electrification of our entire product range. Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest 150 million euros in this project over the next few years. And we will obviously benefit from Daimler’s substantial investment in e-mobility in the years to come”, explains Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
“In Mercedes-Benz Vans we have found the ideal partner for the current and future challenges we face in the retail and logistics industries. The objective is to make our processes even more efficient, productive and sustainable. Low-emission and emission-free vehicles are the cornerstone of our strategy, as are the ongoing development of viable solutions for future inner-city delivery traffic and further improvement of the quality of our service”, says Hanjo Schneider, executive board member of the Otto Group in the services segment and chairman of the supervisory board of Hermes Europe GmbH. “Our shared objective is to offer 100% emission-free deliveries in all the centres of Germany’s major cities by 2025 – a milestone for the future of parcel delivery in Germany”.
Efficient charging infrastructure, intelligent IT services
A particularly important aspect of the collaboration is the joint development of a concept for an efficient charging infrastructure in the logistics centres. The project partners are paying special attention to intelligent IT solutions that will optimise fleet management. Mercedes-Benz Vans will provide Hermes with a connectivity package specifically for electric commercial vehicles. It includes a fleet management function specific to electric vehicles, where the route planning takes factors such as charging infrastructure, range and temperature conditions into account. In addition, digital services are expected to reduce the administrative burden for fleet management and the day-to-day work of the drivers, as well as increase overall vehicle availability at the respective locations.
Solutions for cargo space – fast, efficient and ergonomic
Intelligent systems are being developed to optimise the vehicle cargo space by making the loading and unloading process faster, more efficient and more ergonomic for employees. These include one-shot loading concepts for processes in the logistics centre and automatic shelving systems for vehicle cargo space. However, further solutions for enhancing the quality of delivery services are also being looked at. Through greater speed and efficiency, these solutions support delivery options such as same-day delivery or deliveries within specified time slots. Mercedes-Benz Vans already presented ideas and systems along these lines at the IAA last year.
Battery-powered vans with the three-pointed star
This collaboration is another step by Mercedes-Benz Vans in the direction of implementing its plans for battery-powered drive systems. Last year, the company announced its plans to begin mass production of an electric van once again – years after its previous project in 2011. The batteries for the vehicles will be manufactured by Deutsche Accumotive GmbH in Kamenz, Saxony, while the drive trains will be developed in-house. Adopting module components with a high level of sophistication and production maturity from the passenger vehicle sector will ensure optimal cost-savings for end customers. Mercedes-Benz Vans is developing flexible electric base vehicles for various model ranges that can be adapted with great precision to the needs of the respective customers and industries. At the same time, they comply with the standards expected of the brand regarding ergonomics, workplace safety, comfort and road safety in all respects.
Over the next few years, Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest a total of about 150 million euros in the electrification of its commercial vehicle portfolio, based on the Vito and the Sprinter. This division will be able to tap into existing technologies from the modular toolkit system of Mercedes-Benz Cars and thus benefit from economies of scale. The investments will be allocated to both the adaptation of existing technologies and the company’s own development work. In total, Daimler will invest ten billion euros in electric cars over the next few years.
Logistics Partner Programme: support through flexible leasing and special services
With this strategic partnership, Hermes intends to further advance the modernisation of its vehicle fleet. Along with battery-powered vehicles, Euro VI vans with internal combustion engines will also play an important role. As part of the new Mercedes-Benz Vans Logistics Partner Programme, Hermes will receive a special leasing offer that has been adapted to the specific needs of courier-express-parcel (CEP) service providers and is also offered to Hermes service partners. The offer allows for flexible leasing periods and includes a pool of rental vehicles to enable provision of the required vehicle capacity at short notice, even during peak periods, without the need for Hermes to have these in the company’s own fleet. The services also include driver training courses to support efficient and trouble-free operation of the vehicles as well as individualised services in logistics centres, such as short-notice maintenance and repairs in order to return vehicles to service as soon as possible. The Logistics Partner Programme is also open to other customers of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Hermes – innovation campaign for metropolitan areas
With this even closer collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Vans, Hermes Germany is forging ahead with the implementation of its ambitious growth and sustainability strategy, which places emphasis on deliveries in metropolitan areas. In view of the ongoing boom in online retail and the continuing trend toward urbanisation, it must be assumed that a large part of the constantly increasing volume of shipments in the retail sector will be delivered primarily to customers in the urban areas. This is why Hermes is currently investing substantially in expanding its logistics infrastructure, including the modernisation of its fleet, in order to make future growth as harmless as possible to people and the environment alike. This means that by 2025, all customers in the centres of all major German cities should benefit from entirely emission-free delivery of parcels. The concept also includes expansion of the ParcelShop infrastructure, new micro depots, cargo bicycles and pilot projects in the field of autonomous driving. The Otto Group parent company’s climate protection strategy envisages cutting CO2 emissions at least by half throughout the group by 2020.
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