Achim Kampker was quite frustrated. The engineering professor had brought the shiny prototype of an all-electric car to the International Automotive Exhibition (IAA) 2011 in Frankfurt – the largest automotive show in the world. But nobody really took much note. Then German chancellor Angela Merkel visited the StreetScooter booth. She liked what she saw. “Well done, carry on,” she told the academic.
The professor at RWTH Aachen University had a mission: He wanted to show that it was possible to construct and build a functional and affordable all-electric transport vehicle for city deliveries. But none of the big car manufacturers in Germany was interested.
Seeing the light
One man, however, took note: Jürgen Gerdes, Board Member, Post - eCommerce - Parcel, Deutsche Post DHL Group. He knew that sooner or later he would need electric delivery vehicles to cope with emissions problems in cities. So why not talk to this professor who was audacious enough to present the prototype at the largest car trade show in the world? “Gerdes liked the general idea but said he needed a different model,” says Achim Kampker. So StreetScooter started to work on a delivery vehicle.
As production engineer, Kampker had a totally different strategy than the car specialists: Instead of starting with the product itself, he looked around for what was already available and checked how it could be combined to create the delivery vehicle Deutsche Post DHL was interested in. “We didn’t develop a single new part for the planned new delivery vehicle,” says Kampker. “Instead, we bought what was already available on the market – and focused on developing a production strategy that would enable them to produce the van quickly, efficiently and without the huge capital expenditure usually associated with new car models.”
So within just two years and for one-tenth of regular development costs, he managed to present several prototypes to Jürgen Gerdes. The final version was a van named StreetScooter Work and was exactly what was needed. A robust, simple vehicle, constructed exactly to the specifications of efficient mail and parcel delivery – and at a cost comparable to that of a non-electric van.