DUESSELDORF - German logistics group Deutsche Post DHL Group plans to take on automakers by stepping up production of its Streetscooter electric van and selling it to external customers.
Germany's postal network, Deutsche Post, developed the Streetscooter for internal use to keep emissions low as online shopping creates more demand for parcel deliveries.
However, it has been considering whether to sell it to others and on Tuesday said it would seek another production site and double annual output to 20,000 vans by the end of the year. It plans to sell around half of this year's production to third-party customers.
The company designed and built its own vans, exploiting sweeping changes in manufacturing technology, allowing it to meet growing demand for e-commerce deliveries without adding to air pollution in German cities.
The group decided to make its own van after conventional vehicle makers turned down requests to build the electric vans.
Deutsche Post is phasing out use of Volkswagen's Caddy vans in favor of Streetscooters. It upset VW by going it alone with the electric van project. Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller said he was "annoyed beyond measure" that the group did not talk to VW's commercial vehicles unit.
Deutsche Post currently has about 2,500 StreetScooter vans in its fleet and plans to at least double that this year, it said on Tuesday.
The company expects demand for the van, which will start selling at a price of 32,000 euros ($34,000), from municipal authorities, strategic partners and large fleet customers.
It will sell the vans itself, and customers will be able to use a network of 400 garages across Germany for repairs and maintenance.
"The large demand for the StreetScooter and our own ambitious climate-protection goals have encouraged us to further expand our commitment in the area of electro-mobility and to also make our expertise available to others," Deutsche Post board member Juergen Gerdes said in a statement.
In an interview with newspaper Rheinische Post, Gerdes said he could imagine production of up to 100,000 vans a year across 10 factories in the long run.
He said Deutsche Post was not planning to float StreetScooter on the stock market but did not rule it out in the future.