Some three weeks ago, DHL and the main German mail delivery company Deutsche Post AG have announced to stop the production of the “Streetscooter”, their low-cost-fit-for-purpose delivery vehicle.
What a pity. Why did Streetscooter have do die?
To be clear: I don’t know. I have no insights, and I have never met Deutsche Post CEO Frank Appel. I followed Streetscooter on the internet and discussed it in conversations with other experts for electric vehicles. I believe the idea and their approach were very innovative.
The founder and inventor of the Streetscooter, Professor Günther Schuh, has published a very interesting article on the failure in the German newspaper Handelsblatt (https://t1p.de/6f39, you can probably use translation software to read it, it’s worth the effort).
He writes about the collaboration with DHL:
“To get the deal, we had to offer DHL shares of the company. A typical corporate reflex action in Germany. After the Due Diligence, they even wanted the majority. I asked them: ‘Why do you want to become an automotive manufacturer?’ Answer: ‘We want to control the company, and we want to be fast.”
What followed was the incarnation of slowness. The external sales was stopped for three years as well as the international expansion and the planned re-engineering program, normal POs were delayed, the management was fired, amateurs were hired, the orders of the own DHL fleet were reduced to a minimum, every improvement was forbidden – and they just waited for an opportunity to stop the business.”
I have no idea if this is true. However, I have no problem believing it. We hear the sentence “We want to be fast” pretty often with many of our corporate customers – and then it takes six weeks, three compliance forms and five signatures to process a PO of 5000 Euro. And we have also made the experience that new managers with a “this is never going to work anyway mentality” get into relevant R&D positions, and guess what: it didn’t work.
Last week, Deutsche Post announced a higher dividend for the shareholders. Good for them. For Germany, as an engineer’s country, it might have been preferable if the vehicle had become an export hit (to allow for high dividends later).
In the same newspaper, the German minister for economic affairs and energy claimed three months ago: “We must become Number 1 in hydrogen worldwide.” Is that realistic? A country that is being managed by – quoting Prof. Schuh – “savings bank regulations”? A country where a law called “Renewable Energy Act” makes the electricity so expensive that all attempts to use e.g. excess wind power are fruitless? Where bureaucracy for small funded projects is so big nobody wants to do them?
We’ll talk about that on March 25 at 5 pm CET (8 am PST, 11 am EST, etc.) in our next webinar. “Can Germany become number 1 in the world of hydrogen?” I will show you some projects in Germany and in the world (esp. Asia). Then we’ll have an intensive Q&A session so you can find answers to the questions that keep you awake at night. 🙂
Here’s the registration link: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/1/m079xf7.
We’ll probably have some thousand participants, so please make sure you are there on time. And if you don’t make it then, please register anyway. We’ll send you the recording.
Ok. Here’s the link again: https://event.webinarjam.com/register/1/m079xf7
Have a nice day, and I wish the Streetscooter guys all the best
PS: The webinar will be organized by our new sister company Mission Hydrogen GmbH (www.mission-hydrogen.de). I will share 1-2 very cool news in the webinar (right after the start). Make sure you don’t miss it… https://event.webinarjam.com/register/1/m079xf7.