Mercedes-Benz Vans and Hermes have finalized a contract agreeing a strategic partnership for the development of technologies and services for the vehicle fleet operated by the retail and logistics service provider, thus making official the strategic partnership announced in March. Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, and Hanjo Schneider, Member of the Board of Management of the Otto Group in the services segment and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Hermes Europe GmbH, signed the associated agreement at a Mercedes-Benz sales outlet in Hamburg. Starting in 2018, Hermes Germany will successively put into service a total of 1500 Mercedes-Benz electric vans for package deliveries.

At the contract signing event, the companies provided further details of their cooperation. Following the pilot phase in Hamburg and Stuttgart, which will commence in early 2018, the companies will expand their cooperation to urban areas throughout Germany. The collaboration extends far beyond the operation of battery electric vehicles. It also encompasses the joint development of a concept for an efficient charging infrastructure at Hermes logistics centers and IT services for optimum control of the electric fleet. Furthermore, the partners intend to develop holistic system solutions to increase efficiency across the entire delivery process. This includes, for instance, automatic cargo-space systems that can speed up the loading and unloading of packages. Moreover, Mercedes-Benz Vans is supporting Hermes with special leasing deals – also for service partners under contract to Hermes – to help modernize its courier fleet.

“Today’s van customers need far more than just cargo space on four wheels. They need vehicles adapted to their specific area of application. This includes low- and zero-emissions drives as well as intelligent solutions extending beyond the vehicle itself. The cooperation with Hermes, which involves 1500 Mercedes-Benz electric vans, is a further step in the electrification of our full line-up. Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest 150 million euros in this over the years ahead. And we are also benefitting from the substantial investments Daimler is making in electric mobility over the next few years”, stresses Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.

“Mercedes-Benz Vans is the ideal partner for the current and future challenges facing us in the retail and logistics sector. The aim is to make our processes even more efficient, more productive and more sustainable. Low- and zero-emissions vehicles are an important pillar in our strategy, as are the continued development of forward-looking solutions for inner-city delivery traffic and the further improvement of our service quality”, says Hanjo Schneider, Member of the Board of Management of the Otto Group in the services segment and Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Hermes Europe GmbH. “We are working together with the aim of making 100 percent of our deliveries in the centers of Germany’s major cities with zero emissions by 2025 – a milestone for the future of courier services in Germany.

Efficient charging infrastructure, intelligent IT services
One especially important aspect of the cooperation is the joint development of a concept for an efficient charging infrastructure at logistics centers. The project partners are looking particularly closely at intelligent IT solutions for the optimization of fleet management. Mercedes-Benz Vans is offering Hermes a connectivity package dedicated to electric commercial vehicles. It incorporates electric-specific fleet management, with route planning that takes into account factors such as charging infrastructure, range and temperature conditions. Furthermore, digital services are aimed at reducing the administrative burden for fleet management personnel and the day-to-day job of delivery drivers, as well as raising overall vehicle availability at the respective locations.

Solutions in the cargo space – fast, efficient and ergonomic
Intelligent systems are being developed for the vehicle cargo space to make loading and unloading faster, more efficient and more ergonomic for personnel. This includes solutions such as one-shot loading concepts for processes at the logistics center and automatic shelving systems for the vehicle cargo space. However, further solutions are also envisaged to make the quality of delivery services even better. Through greater speed and more efficiency, these solutions support options such as same-day delivery or delivery within a predefined time slot. Mercedes-Benz Vans already presented ideas and systems along these lines at last year’s IAA in Hanover.

Battery-electric vans with the three-pointed star
This collaboration marks a further step for Mercedes-Benz Vans in the implementation of its plans in the field of battery-electric drives. Last year, the company announced it would recommence series production of an electric van – it’s first entered production in 2011. The batteries for the vehicles are manufactured by Deutsche Accumotive GmbH in Kamenz, Saxony, while the drivetrain is an in-house development. By taking over modules with a high degree of production maturity from the passenger-car division, it has been possible to keep costs for the end consumer as low as possible. Mercedes-Benz Vans is developing flexible base vehicles with electric drive for different model ranges that can be closely adapted to the needs of different customers and sectors. At the same time, they fulfil to the utmost the brand’s hallmark standards of ergonomics, workplace safety, comfort and road safety.

Over the next few years, Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest a total of around 150 million euros in the electrification of its commercial line-up, based on the Vito and the Sprinter. In so doing, the division can make use of the existing technologies of the modular toolkit system offered by Mercedes-Benz Cars and benefit from economies of scale. Investments will flow into the adaptation of existing technologies and in-house development activities. Overall, Daimler will invest ten billion euros in electric cars over the years ahead.

Logistics Partner Program – support with flexible leasing and special services
Hermes is seeking to use the partnership to forge ahead with the modernization of its vehicle fleet. Playing a major role alongside battery-electric vehicles are Euro VI vans with internal combustion engines. Within the scope of Mercedes-Benz Vans’ new Logistics Partner Program, Hermes is receiving a special leasing deal that has been adapted to the specific needs of express-courier-service providers and is also being offered to Hermes’ service partners. It facilitates flexible leasing periods and includes a pool of rental vehicles to provide the necessary vehicle capacity at short notice to cover order peaks, without the need for Hermes to hold such vehicles in their own fleet. The services also include driver training courses that aid efficient and trouble-free vehicle operation, as well as individual services at logistics centers – such as short-notice maintenance and repair, to ensure vehicles are quickly returned to service. The Logistics Partner Program is also available to other Mercedes-Benz Vans customers.

Source: Mercedes-Benz Vans