The German postal service is looking at electrifying its fleet – and slashing its carbon footprint. In cooperation with Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Deutsche Post DHL conducted a three-month fleet trial in Potsdam with ten Volkswagen Caddy blue-e-motion vehicles.

Street in Potsdam with one of ten Volkswagen Caddy Blue-e-Motion during a three-month fleet trial with Deutsche Post DHL. (photo)

With the parcel tucked firmly under her arm, Ivonne Rendelmann rang the doorbell and waited. She rang the doorbell again. And waited some more. “Nobody is home!” She put the heavy package back into the Caddy. On to the next customer. Ivonne works for Deutsche Post DHL. She is one of the 24 drivers whose rounds were powered by electricity in the summer of 2011 with the Caddy blue-e-motion from Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.

Deutsche Post DHL road-tested ten prototypes in Potsdam and Stahnsdorf, near Berlin, with scientific support from the Institute of Transportation Design in Brunswick and the backing of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment. Ivonne Rendelmann was quite taken with the electric drive Caddy: “I don’t want to give it back!” Postal delivery workers hop in and out of their vehicles up to 400 times per round. “Once the key is in the ignition, all I have to do is put the van into drive, touch the accelerator and I’m off”, says Ivonne. “It doesn’t get any easier than that. Plus, it’s so quiet and doesn’t give off emissions!”

Deutsche Post DHL currently has around 20,000 Volkswagen Caddys in service across Germany. 80 percent of vehicles travel less than 50 kilometers every day and almost always take the same route. “The electric drive promises huge advantages for short, inner-city distances and delivery runs”, explains engineer Jörg Strunz, a member of the alternative drive concepts team at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and responsible for the fleet project. The Caddy blue-e-motion is his baby.

Commercial vehicles Caddy Blue-e-Motion by Volkswagen in summer 2011 (photo)
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