Autonomous electric vehicles : the future of delivery is on its way

As the volume of parcels delivered to households is expected to double by 2025, in particular due to an exponential growth in the cross-border e-commerce market, carriers must meet the increasing consumer demand while reducing the environmental impact of their business activities. Thomas Steverding, Senior Group Manager Process & Development at DPD Germany, reflects on the challenges the industry faces and the mobility solutions provided to overcome them.

What are today’s consumer demands in terms of delivery?

Thomas Steverding: Today’s consumers expect full transparency of parcel tracking combined with higher flexibility in the delivery method. We constantly strive to both innovate and maintain our operational excellence on a daily basis in order to improve the “last mile” delivery experience and personalise customer relationships.

“The impact of autonomous vehicles will be crucial in offering our customers a delivery service with higher flexibility.”

How exactly does DPD Germany, part of a group which is active in 37 countries, envision the future of delivery?

T.S.: Using our digital and mobile channels, our customers can already make real-time changes to the parcel’s date and place of delivery or opt for other delivery methods. This is only the beginning as the development of artificial intelligence and predictive analytics will allow us to further improve the management of deliveries in the future. Finally, the multiplicity of delivery services such as instant delivery or delivery at any time, in a store, in a pick-up location, or mobility services, will make the lives of consumers much easier. The impact of autonomous vehicles will be crucial in offering our customers higher flexibility.

How can autonomous electric delivery vehicles successfully address these challenges?

T.S.: Their modularity and their multifunctional nature show great prospects for the future of delivery. For instance, we could use driverless delivery vehicles for standard delivery services and vehicles with drivers to provide customers with tailored services during premium door-to-door deliveries. We could also offer a fleet of mobile parcel lockers allowing customers to drop off or collect their parcels, in addition to vehicles available at all times for the most urgent situations, such as deliveries relating to medical care or hospital needs, and so on. Autonomous electric vehicles offer great opportunities and we strongly believe in their potential.

DPD is a perfect match to elaborate forthcoming scenarios of autonomous driving with Renault.”

How will autonomous electric vehicles fit into the urban mobility network?

T.S.: The last major asset of autonomous and electric delivery vehicles is their availability. They will be able to carry out an increasing number of deliveries at night time or very early in the morning, which will not only improve the quality of our customer service but also traffic in major cities. While many districts are considering access restrictions in city centres for standard vehicles, autonomous electric vehicles will finally allow us to reduce the environmental impact of our business activities, which is one of our current priorities.

Can you tell us about your meeting on this topic with the Renault teams?

T.S.: We are happy to provide our last mile expertise and share a common vision with Renault. The collaboration between our two brands can go further. With its last mile delivery experience, DPD is a perfect match to elaborate forthcoming scenarios of autonomous driving with Renault.

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