German DHL Express, StreetScooter to develop hydrogen powered transport van

DHL Express, the parcel and express mail division of the German mail and logistics company Deutsche Post, and the electric utility vehicle manufacturer StreetScooter are planning to develop a hydrogen powered delivery vehicle, Deutsche Post announced on Friday.

According to Deutsche Post, the so-called H2 Panel Van will be a 4.25-ton electric delivery vehicle equipped with a fuel cell. Using hydrogen to generate electricity, the van is set to be able to drive up to 500 kilometers.

“With the H2 Panel Van, DHL Express becomes the first express provider to use a larger number of electric vehicles with fuel cells for last-mile logistics,” commented Markus Reckling, chief executive officer of DHL Express.

Deutsche Post announced that the H2 Panel Van will be “realized in collaboration” with the U.S. car manufacturer Ford.

The German postal delivery service has already worked together with Ford on its StreetScooter WORK XL which is currently being assembled at Ford’s plants in the city of Cologne.

According to plans of DHL Express, the H2 Panel Van will also be based on the StreetScooter WORK XL, the largest model in StreetScooter’s model lineup. The WORK XL model is currently used by Deutsche Post as a parcel transportation vehicle.

The H2 Panel Van is set to have a cargo capacity of over 10 cubic meters, which corresponded to a transport volume of around 100 express parcels, according to Deutsche Post.

“Openness to new technologies is key to our overall strategy, which is why we are also supporting the use of this battery electric vehicle with additional fuel cell capability,” stated German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer.

A climate-friendly transport of deliveries with alternative drives could only be achieved with “high ranges and marketable prices,” Scheuer added.

The German ministry for transport is funding the project as part of Germany’s national innovation program for hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

DHL Express has ordered 100 of the new hydrogen-powered transportation vehicles with delivery scheduled to start in 2020. According to Deutsche Post, a sale to third parties of the H2 Panel Vans was “currently not planned”.