Chair of Technology and Innovation Management

Corporate Innovation at Deutsche Post DHL

In the virtual guest lecture by Thomas Kipp, former EVP Corporate Incubations, students learned about the exciting development history of the "StreetScooter" innovation project

Showing that Deutsche Post DHL processes more than just the logistics of letters and parcels, Thomas Kipp held a virtual guest lecture in the "Innovation Management" lecture as part of the Bachelor of Science program.

The company, which is one of the 20 largest employers worldwide, has set itself the goal of zero CO2 emissions by the year 2050. In order to achieve this goal, measures and projects were developed, which resulted in the StreetScooter.

Following the guiding principle "Never disrupt an industry from inside but outside", a partnership with researchers from RTWH Aachen University was initially agreed upon, who were already working on a fully electric and affordable small car. This small car formed the basis for the development of the StreetScooter. According to Thomas Kipp, the project was special in that the StreetScooter was an investment in completely new technology with new possibilities outside of the classic business model of Deutsche Post DHL and resembled more a start-up within the group in its entire organization and implementation. During the development, the approach of "reverse engineering" was chosen. In concrete terms, this meant that the requirements and circumstances were discussed first and only then did the development and production start. The focus here was particularly on the requirements of the drivers of such vehicles. The final result was a delivery van that was optimally suited for the everyday conditions of a parcel and postal delivery with an average of 100-150 parcels. The development time from the initial concept to the start of production was only about 3.5 years, which was a very short time compared to OEMs in the mobility industry.

The StreetScooter offers a wide range of possible applications. Accordingly, many inquiries from other companies or local authorities have been registered to use the StreetScooter as a commercial vehicle or advertising medium. Currently, more than 9,000 StreetScooters have been registered and together with 3,000 pedelecs they have covered more than 75 million kilometers. The vehicle is considered the market leader and has been sold internationally, for instance in Japan, since 2019. It will still take some time until the complete conversion of the entire fleet with over 35,000 vehicles, but the first important steps towards a CO2 emission-free business have been taken. 

At the end of his presentation, Thomas Kipp summarized important lessons learned that need to be taken into account when dealing with radical innovations within large companies.