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  • Writer's pictureDr. Andreas Pfeiffer

Emobility for commercial fleets – from requirements to future solutions

Insights and outlook from the webinar on November 8th, 2023

Welcome to another edition of "Behind the Scenes", where today we share the dynamics and lively discussions of our recent webinar "Electromobility for Commercial Fleets - from the requirement to the future solution" pick up. On November 8, 2023, we said goodbye to the traditional way of presenting and instead created a platform for real conversations. It was a day without Powerpoint battles, but with in-depth dialogues between true pioneers in the industry. Our guests, Armin Humer, Dr. Carsten Suckrow and Carolin Paech, shared their valuable insights and experiences, which not only illuminated the practical implementation of electromobility in commercial fleets, but also the joy and commitment behind this pioneering movement. In today's interview, we reflect on the key moments of the webinar and delve deeper into the world of electromobility to understand how it works, what challenges there are and how funding programs can make the transition easier.

The panel consisting of Armin Humer (DB Schenker), Dr. Carsten Suckrow (ARAL Pulse), Carolin Paech (National Charging Infrastructure Control Center) & Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (greenventors GmbH) (from left to right)
Armin Humer, Dr. Carsten Suckrow, Carolin Paech & Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer (from left to right)

Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Welcome to “Behind the Scenes”, where today we review the exciting moments of our webinar from November 8th, 2023. It was a refreshing change from the usual Powerpoint battles - real conversations with real people who not only gave us all valuable insights, but also a lot of joy and fun in electromobility. We are proud to have hosted this webinar and to have hosted experts such as Armin Humer, Dr. Carsten Suckrow and Carolin Paech for this discussion. Today we will share our experts' experiences and insights to understand how electric mobility can work in commercial fleets and the role funding plays in this. Let us briefly introduce the panel again.


Armin Humer: Thank you, Andreas. I am Armin Humer, Sustainability Manager at DB Schenker. I have been working in the logistics industry for over a decade and have experienced and helped shape the change towards more sustainable transport solutions. I'm happy to share some of our experiences today.


Dr. Carsten Suckrow: I am Dr. Carsten Suckrow, and I am head of the EV Fleet & Depot division at ARAL AG. I have been working in the e-mobility services market since 2016. I am looking forward to discussing how traditional energy companies like ARAL can support the mobility transition. I look forward to discussing how traditional energy companies like ARAL can support the mobility transition


Carolin Paech: I'm Carolin Paech and I work at the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur, where I am responsible for the design of various funding and financing instruments for the expansion of charging infrastructure. My job is to support the implementation of our funding programs and ensure that they help companies achieve their electromobility goals.


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: I would first like to come back to the format of our webinar. We have seen that a dialogue format without PowerPoint presentations allows for a deeper and more authentic discussion. How did you experience that?


Armin Humer: I found it very pleasant. It allowed us to share our experiences and challenges directly and unfiltered. For example, we talked about the need to involve our partners and customers in the process of electrification in order to reduce CO2 together.


Dr. Carsten Suckrow: I agree. It was a great opportunity to discuss the practical aspects of electromobility, such as the need for innovative, robust backend software for managing the charging infrastructure.


Carolin Paech: And it also showed how important it is is to have transparency about the costs and operation of the charging infrastructure, which is a central aspect of our funding programs.


Armin Humer: All in all, it was a really refreshing experience to be able to talk directly and without foils. At DB Schenker, we are facing the challenge of making our transportation activities emission-free. We have already made progress, such as the implementation of DC charging stations across Germany to create a nationwide charging infrastructure. We face the challenge of finding the right balance between the availability of electric vehicles and the necessary charging infrastructure. Another point was cost-effectiveness - how we ensure that the total cost of ownership (TCO) remains competitive.

At ARAL AG we have already installed an impressive number of charging points and plan to further expand our capacities. It is important that our customers have access to a reliable charging infrastructure, and we are proud to be Germany's best charging provider. - Dr. Carsten Suckrow (ARAL pulse)

Dr. Carsten Suckrow: Yes, that's true. And at ARAL AG, we have already installed an impressive number of public charging points and plan to further expand our public charging capacity. It is important that our customers have access to a reliable charging infrastructure and we are proud to have been named Germany's best charging provider by the trade magazine Connect in October.

From the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur, we offer support through funding programs. It is crucial that both large companies such as DB Schenker and ARAL AG and SMEs receive the necessary funding to expand their infrastructure and drive forward electromobility. - Carolin Paech (Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur)

Carolin Paech: Exactly, and on the part of the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur, we offer support through funding programs. It is crucial that both large companies such as DB Schenker and ARAL AG and SMEs receive the necessary funding to expand their infrastructure and drive forward electromobility.


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: I would also like to draw attention to a specific application case that we saw at Meffert AG Farbwerke, where we act as a strategic sparring partner accompanied the introduction of electromobility [link to interview behind the scenes]. This shows that electromobility is feasible and that funding is a positive secondary condition for early scaling. With good project management and the necessary support expertise, electromobility is not a problem today. An important point is the energy supply, for example through photovoltaics. Meffert AG Farbwerke has implemented this excellently by equipping their roofs with PV in order to supply their fleet and operations with locally generated energy. Carsten, how do you see that?


Dr. Carsten Suckrow: One of the biggest challenges in providing charging infrastructure for operational use is the grid connection. If the grid connection is too small, we rely on stationary or dynamic load management in order to use the existing grid capacities efficiently, we also consider battery-based solutions. Nevertheless, Meffert's approach here is coherent and, for us, fits fully into the idea of the holistic mobility & transportation ecosystem.

Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Armin, in the webinar you talked about the challenges at DB Schenker. Can you explain your main points to us again?


Armin Humer: Sure, Andreas. At DB Schenker, we view electromobility as an essential part of our sustainability strategy. The challenges lie primarily in the planning and implementation of the charging infrastructure. But with good project management and the right support it is definitely doable.


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Armin, but something very central stuck in my mind. You mentioned in the webinar that drivers play a central role in the transition to electric vehicles and it is important to take them with you on this journey. Could you go into more detail about how DB Schenker designs share and stakeholder management, especially with regard to the drivers of electric vehicles?

We at DB Schenker see the drivers of our vehicles not just as employees, but as key stakeholders in the process of electrifying our fleet. It is critical that we understand their needs and concerns to ensure adoption and smooth deployment of electric vehicles. - Armin Humer (DB Schenker)

Armin Humer: Yes, that is a very important point. At DB Schenker, we see the drivers of our vehicles not just as employees, but as key stakeholders in the process of electrifying our fleet. It is critical that we understand their needs and concerns to ensure adoption and smooth deployment of electric vehicles. We have found that drivers are reacting very positively to the new electric trucks. Driving is more pleasant, and in times of driver shortages it is even more important to create attractive working conditions. We rely on close collaboration and communication with our drivers to ensure they feel comfortable and receive the support they need. This also includes establishing feedback loops in which drivers can share their experiences and make suggestions for improvements. This approach helps us to address any fears and actively involve drivers in the transformation process. Ultimately, our goal is for drivers to see electric vehicles as an asset rather than a burden.


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Armin, can you tell us again about a specific challenge that DB Schenker had to overcome when transitioning to a zero-emission fleet?


Armin Humer: Sure, Andreas. One of the biggest challenges was scaling our charging infrastructure. We initially had a fleet of electric vehicles, but not enough charging stations. I remember a situation where we had to improvise because a vehicle needed to be charged in the middle of a shift. We quickly learned that careful planning of routes and loading times is crucial. Today we have a sophisticated system that allows us to manage our fleet efficiently.


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer:Armin, let's go over the route planning again. You explained how you at DB Schenker deal with the challenge of range anxiety and route planning? How do you ensure that the vehicles are used efficiently and at the same time the drivers feel comfortable?


Armin Humer: You're right, the topic of range anxiety is special important in the beginning to provide support and minimize fear. We use local transport vehicles with a range of up to 300 kilometers and choose routes of up to 200 kilometers. This way we ensure that a buffer of at least 20% always remains. It's also about learning to analyze and optimize consumption with the vehicles. We have to be more active in planning routes than we are currently used to and keep a closer eye on where to park and charge. It is a learning process, both for the drivers and for us as a company, to efficiently integrate electromobility into our logistics processes.

Dr. Pfeiffer: This is a great example of the importance of flexibility and adaptability. Carsten, how does ARAL deal with the challenge of providing a reliable charging infrastructure for commercial fleets?


Dr. Carsten Suckrow: Andreas, we have recognized that providing a charging infrastructure is more than just setting up charging stations. It's about creating an ecosystem. A key moment for me was when we launched our first ultra-fast charging station and I saw a fleet vehicle charge in under 30 minutes. That was the moment I knew we were on the right track.


Dr. Pfeiffer: That sounds like a real turning point. Carolin, how do the funding programs of the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur support companies at such turning points?


Carolin Paech: Our funding programs are aimed at helping companies make the transition to facilitate. We offer financial support for the installation of charging infrastructure and advise on best practices. To achieve this, we work on the basis of data and focus on the user. This is the only way that financial support can have an impact!


Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Interesting. Carolin, let us go into this in more detail. In addition to financial support, what key points do you bring from the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur into the electric mobility cycle?


Carolin Paech: You're right, financial support is a important aspect, but we see our role as going far beyond that. A decisive lever lies in the public sector, especially in municipalities. They are the players who can promote and accelerate electromobility locally. It's not just about money, but often about knowledge transfer and introducing people to the topic, including setting up charging infrastructure. We at the Nationale Leitstelle Ladeinfrastruktur work every day to support municipalities with various tools and knowledge offerings. Our goal is to give them the necessary know-how so that they can effectively advance electromobility.

With the right planning, support and funding, switching to electric mobility is a feasible step towards a more sustainable future. The discussions and experiences of our guests provide valuable insights and strengthen our belief that the mobility transition is an achievable future. - Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer

Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer: Thank you again for your contributions to the webinar and the time you provided for this interview. It is clear that electromobility represents a challenge, but also offers great opportunities. With the right planning, support and funding, switching to electric mobility is a feasible step towards a more sustainable future. The discussions and experiences of our guests provide valuable insights and strengthen our belief that the mobility transition is an achievable future.


Conclusion

Today's conversation with our experts showed once again that the path to electromobility is paved with challenges, but is definitely feasible and worthwhile. The insights from Armin Humer, Dr. Carsten Suckrow and Carolin Paech make it clear that with the right planning, committed project management and the use of available funding programs, electromobility is not just a vision, but a viable future for commercial fleets. The enthusiasm and commitment of our guests are contagious and show that the mobility transition is more than just a change in drive technology - it is a step towards a more sustainable and responsible way of doing business and living. We thank our guests for their openness and enthusiasm and look forward to continuing to advance electromobility together.


Background resources


Förderprogramm Gewerbliche Schnell-LIS_NLL
.pdf
Download PDF • 1.85MB
20231108 Webinar Aral Pulse
.pdf
Download PDF • 647KB

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