“The public and our business customers want carbon-neutral delivery.”
Since February, mail carriers in the cities of Zurich and Bern have been delivering all letters and parcels with Swiss Post’s own CO2-free e-vehicles. We asked Johannes Cramer – Member of Executive Management and Head of Logistics Services at Swiss Post – about the changeover in delivery and the challenges it presents.
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Why is Swiss Post starting with the switch to carbon-neutral delivery in Bern and Zurich?
Electric mobility is a field that’s still developing. Mountainous terrain and long rounds still present challenges at the moment. That’s why it made sense to start in flat, densely populated areas – although Zurich, as the biggest urban center, also places great demands on the new e-fleet. We set the end of 2024 as a milestone: we aim to provide carbon-neutral delivery in the major Swiss cities – Zurich, Bern, Basel and Geneva – by this time. Our target for the whole of Switzerland is 2030.
Replacing the fleet is a huge undertaking, but the infrastructure modifications – particularly vehicle charging – are probably even more far-reaching. What measures have been implemented for the changeover, and what’s the state of progress?
It’s absolutely true that the modifications are far-reaching. You obviously can’t simply fill up e-vehicles at the petrol station. The ranges also tend to be smaller, and that has to be factored in. The conversion entailed expensive structural modifications and systems relating to charging infrastructure and management. A large number of e-vehicles have to be charged as efficiently as possible at the same time, so that everything is ready for delivery each morning. Everyone worked together on the changeover – professionals from Post Real Estate were on board, as well as experts from Post Company Cars.
There’s been a lot of talk about electricity shortages recently. With the larger e-fleet, how difficult is it to plan for emergency situations, such as a blackout?
Planning is an ongoing process. A blackout would clearly be hugely challenging for the entire country and would lead to loss of performance in all kinds of sectors. In this scenario, we would have to plan how to make effective use of the quota made available to us.
Delivery operations at one of our competitors are already fully electric. Why is it taking so long to switch to alternative drive systems at Swiss Post?
Our situation can only be compared with the competition to a limited extent. We operate on a completely different scale in terms of delivery volumes. In 2022, we delivered six times more parcels by e-vehicle than our largest competitor. That figure will be even higher this year. Our mandate also puts us in a different starting position: we deliver everywhere in Switzerland, including the mountain areas – whereas the competition doesn’t.
In your view, where is the impetus for the switch to carbon-neutral delivery and other sustainable measures coming from? Is it being driven by the customer, the workforce or personal commitment?
This switch has been motivated by the wishes of various partners. Both the Swiss public and our business partners are increasingly expressing a desire for carbon-neutral delivery. And I believe that this trend will continue to grow. It’s a vital issue to me personally, and one that I’m highly committed to. What I find particularly nice is the internal dynamic that it has created. It’s not all coming from above – project teams, site managers and staff are really backing the project and all pulling in the same direction. That’s wonderful to see.
What role does the switch to carbon-neutral delivery play for our customers?
It’s personally important to many recipient customers. But it’s now also a business-relevant factor for lots of our business customers, too. They’re committed to sustainability and environmental standards. This means that carbon neutrality in supply chains and among suppliers is increasingly a key criterion when selecting suppliers. I strongly believe that companies who fail to adopt a sustainable approach to business won’t survive on the market in the long term.
Does carbon-neutral delivery change anything for Swiss Post customers? If so, what?
Nothing changes for recipient customers in terms of service – apart from lower noise emissions during delivery and the certainty that resources are being used as sparingly as possible. Our switch to e-mobility means that our business customers will reduce carbon emissions in their processes, too.
What feedback have you received from delivery staff about their experience with the e-fleet so far?
Overall, feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. There were a few initial teething problems that had to be resolved, such as with charging infrastructure. But the project team are now really proud of their achievements, and staff on the rounds are delighted to be travelling CO2-free.