COLOGNE -- Deutsche Post said it would consider broadening an electric van alliance with Ford Motor after teaming up to put zero-emissions delivery vans on the road.
Germany, the main market for the vehicles, is clamping down on toxic diesel emissions, and unveiled a 500 million euro ($587 million) fund this month to help municipalities invest in less-polluting vehicles.
It would make sense to "think about further activities" with Ford, Deutsche Post board member Juergen Gerdes said on Wednesday, as the two companies presented their delivery van, the StreetScooter Work XL, for which Ford is supplying vehicle technology based on its Transit model.
The move has been a blow to Volkswagen Group, whose CEO Matthias Mueller said last October that he was annoyed "beyond measure" that Deutsche Post was phasing out its use of VW Caddy vans and had not approached VW's commercial vehicles division to jointly develop EV vans.
Advances in manufacturing software are allowing auto industry newcomers such as Deutsche Post, Google and startups to tap suppliers to design, engineer and test new vehicle concepts without hiring thousands of engineering staff or investing billions in tooling and factories.
Deutsche Post initially developed an electric minivan dubbed StreetScooter for its own operations to avoid inner-city emissions after growth in online shopping resulted in increased parcel deliveries.
But in April it took on carmakers by unveiling plans to step up production and sell to other delivery firms.
The group said on Wednesday it would eventually sell the new model being built with Ford components to third parties as well.
The model, which adds to the existing StreetScooter Work and Work L vans, is part of a plan to build another production site for the StreetScooter unit and double annual output to 20,000 vans by the end of the year.
Board member Gerdes said Deutsche Post would likely pick the location for the second production site next month.
Deutsche Post, which is also building a countrywide network of maintenance and repair shops, wants a fleet of at least 2,500 of the Work XL model on the road by the end of 2018.