Popular German produced Smart Cars will become delivery boxes for DHL package operations in Germany this year in the largest test of the mail and auto industry working together to leverage connected cars, reports Bloomberg.
Owners of Daimler AG’s Smart models can arrange for DHL to deliver parcels to the trunks of their parked cars starting in September in the parent company’s hometown of Stuttgart, with the service eventually rolled out to a total of seven cities in the following months, including Cologne and Berlin.
The program is called “Smart Ready to Drop” will be Germany’s biggest trial yet of in-car delivery for ordinary vehicle owners, with several hundred customers targeted in each city. This service is designed to ease logistics in everyday urban life.
Missed deliveries don’t just annoy shoppers, they’re a profit-sapping cost burden to package handlers such as Deutsche Post, Europe’s biggest mail operator.
Similar efforts to use cars as delivery sites include a joint test last year by DHL, online retailer Amazon.com Inc. and Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury-car division and a Volvo Car Group project in Sweden. Amazon is now focusing on drone delivery of its products.
How Smart Ready to Drop works
Smart Ready to Drop will be available on models equipped with so-called connectivity box detectors that will become standard equipment as of September. The customer will use a mobile application to agree on delivery details. A code will allow the DHL courier to open the vehicle during a specific timeframe to place the goods in the back of the car, and to pick up returned items.
DHL is forecasting 5-7% average annual growth in parcel volume through 2020, with e-commerce a key demand driver.
The program’s replication potential is relatively high. There is even a chance that this model could work in Southeast Asia once the region has caught up with the technology advancement, popular Asian car brands such as Toyota could team up with local postal companies to pilot a similar model in the future.
A version of this appeared in Bloomberg on July 25. Read the full version here.