The diesel emissions scandal has been deeply harmful to Germany's traditional car industry, with everyone from Daimler and Volkswagen to BMW being implicated. Now countries such as the U.K. and France are planning to ban diesel vehicles altogether. However, one teutonic giant seems to have found an upside: the Deutsche Post DHL Group.
The logistics outfit makes its own electric delivery vans – a move that annoyed Volkswagen, the maker of its traditional vans – and sells them. Indeed, Deutsche Post announced a deal with Ford a couple of months ago, with the aim of building a larger model of the "StreetScooter."
When Deutsche Post announced its half-year results on Tuesday, chief financial officer Melanie Kreis said the decision to sell the StreetScooter to other businesses was well-timed. "We are in very intense discussions with different potential customers and the talk of diesel bans has fueled those," she said.
Demand for vans is strong due to the growing importance of e-commerce and its reliance on home delivery. Registrations of delivery vans across the EU were up 12% last year, according to industry lobby ACEA. But since most in Europe run on diesel, they are at risk from various cities' plans to ban them from city centers and other zones sensitive to pollution. Neither VW nor Daimler currently has an all-electric van on sale, although Daimler hopes to bring a battery-powered Mercedes-Benz van to market early next year.
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According to the company's financial report for the first half of the year, the production of StreetScooters was one of the biggest elements in the parcel division's capital expenditure during the period.
Last week, Volkswagen executive Oliver Schmidt pleaded guilty to conspiring to mislead U.S. regulators and violating clean air laws, in relation to the diesel scandal. Volkswagen used software to manipulate the emissions readouts from its diesel cars, in order to make them seem less harmful to the environment than they were. Daimler has also warned it may face financial penalties for similar violations in the U.S..