1,000 electric vehicles with the project “Zukunft.de”

The “Zukunft.de” project is coming to an end after four years. 1,000 parcel delivery vans were electrified as part of the research project.

The “Zukunft.de” project is coming to an end after four years. 1,000 parcel delivery vans were electrified as part of the research project.

The research project was launched in 2018 with the aim of deploying a minimum of 500 electric parcel delivery and courier vans. This goal has been exceeded by far.

Electrification for the “last mile”

The title of the “Zukunft.de” project, literally “Future” in German, pertains to its mission to provide “delivery services in a customer-friendly, sustainable flexible and transparent way, through zero emissions.” “Zukunft.de” was coordinated by the Hamburg-based project management company hySolutions, the “e-mobil BW” state-funded agency, and the Hesse Ministry for Transport. Its aim is the electrification of last-mile deliveries. The German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has put up €20 million for the project, which was split with €5.2 million going towards research, and the remaining €14.8 million towards investment in the procurement of the charging infrastructure and vehicles. Expectation has been exceeded by 100 percent with a total of 1,000 electric vehicles in Germany. The vehicles funded by the project are based at 70 sites throughout Germany and over the term of the project covered over 12 million kilometers, made 17.6 million deliveries, and saved over 13,000 metric tons of CO2.

However, the project went far beyond pure vehicle procurement and establishment of a charging infrastructure. The vans underwent rigorous practical testing on the road making deliveries. It also defined criteria, including how depots were to be designed for use with electrical vans, and solutions were derived for adapting operational workflows that arose through the electrification of the vehicles.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Petra Schäfer, Professor of Transport Planning, from the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences (Frankfurt UAS), along with other colleagues provided scientific assistance to the project. Photo: U. Wolf

Launchpad for nationwide electrification

From a scientific point of view, the project obtained a large volume of useful data from the real-life day-to-day operation of the vehicles. A model was also developed for the first time that enabled route planning to be optimized with electric vans. The project marked the start of a nationwide electrification of delivery services for the parcel delivery and courier companies involved. In the meantime, all four companies have developed concepts for the further electrification of their fleets – even after the conclusion of the project. In the opinion of the initiators, “Zukunft.de” thus represents the initial launch of last mile electrification in the parcel delivery sector.

The project planners

  • hySolutions, Hamburg (Project Management)
  • Daimler, Stuttgart
  • DPD Germany, Aschaffenburg
  • Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, Frankfurt
  • Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research, Stuttgart
  • General Logistics Systems Germany, Neuenstein
  • Hermes Germany, Hamburg
  • Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg
  • Stromnetz Hamburg, Hamburg
  • United Parcel Service Germany, Neuss
  • Volkswagen, Wolfsburg
  • Partnerkreis Invest/Leasing companies:
  • Mercedes-Benz Leasing, Stuttgart
  • Volkswagen Leasing, Braunschweig

Associated partners

  • e-mobil BW, Stuttgart
  • Hesse Ministry for Business, Energy, Transport and Housing, Wiesbaden
  • EnBW Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg, Stuttgart