Dieter Bambauer, Head of PostLogistics and Member of Executive Management, reveals in this interview on e-mobility why he is an early mover, what he would do if he were head of Tesla for a day and how he sees the role of Post Company Cars.
What was your first electric car and in what year did you get it?
I ended up with an electric vehicle more by accident than anything. In 2013, my car broke down, and, as a temporary solution, I was provided with one of the first Tesla vehicles in Switzerland by our fleet management. Since then, I’ve been an enthusiastic driver of electric vehicles.
Why are you such an early mover when it comes to e-mobility?
As I said, it was more by accident. But from the outset, I was convinced that an alternative drive system would become mainstream. Elon Musk provided the impetus. The technology is impressive; the logic and simplicity are persuasive arguments.
It’s well known that you’re an active advocate for e-mobility within Executive Management. What are your main motivations for advising someone to switch from a combustion engine vehicle to an electric one?
Swiss Post Executive Management has a high level of affinity with technology and regularly discusses mobility issues. There are numerous reasons for shifting to e-mobility. The biggest is to make a clear commitment to an environmentally-friendly approach to mobility. Then there’s the quality of the driving experience. Once you’ve driven an electric car, any other form of transport seems ridiculous.
What do you particularly enjoy about driving an electric vehicle?
The quality of the driving experience. Driving an electric vehicle is relaxing, which means you’re more likely to brake and adjust your speed. The noise level also means that you’re constantly in a relaxed mode.
Have you had any bad experiences with electric cars, or is there anything that irritates you about these vehicles?
Range is no longer an issue with the vehicles currently available on the market. That means that it’s easy to travel throughout Switzerland. On long-distance journeys, the need to charge can be a challenge, but having to take breaks to do so can also be another way to relax.
What improvements have there been with e-mobility to date, and what still needs to happen for this technology to achieve long-lasting success?
The high level of technology savviness, strong purchasing power and low electricity prices make Switzerland the ideal setting for e-mobility to evolve in a sustainable fashion. In other countries, much greater distances and higher electricity costs mean the situation is quite different. The economic and operating conditions are in place here. E-mobility has gained acceptance as a fully-fledged alternative to fossil fuels. Economies of scale will see prices drop and more manufacturers bring out new models on to the market. The stage is set, and the market now needs to evolve in a consistent fashion. People need to gain experience with e-mobility.
The market share of electric cars in Switzerland is around four percent. What needs to change at the political and societal levels over the next few years for electric vehicles to become established in the marketplace?
I think that politicians don’t actually need to do much more. The only thing they can really do is to create further financial incentives. At a societal level, there is already acceptance. A major focus certainly has to placed on the charging infrastructure, in order to boost the attractiveness of e-mobility even more. As an example, these should be taken into account systematically when new public buildings are constructed.
If you could be the boss of Tesla for a day, what would be the first thing that you would do?
I’ve got a clear answer for that: I would bring the team together in the morning and launch the “CyberVan” project. Using the existing Tesla technologies as a basis, I would commission a blueprint for an electric delivery vehicle that has storage space of 11–15 cubic metres. That’s the size we use at Swiss Post, and it’s commonplace around the world. It’s possible for Tesla to build a vehicle of that kind with a maximum weight of 4.2 tonnes and a 100 kW battery that has a range of more than 250 kilometres. I would bring the necessary impetus and draw on Tesla’s energy and drive to achieve this.
One aim of the new “Swiss Post of tomorrow” strategy is for the entire delivery fleet to be electric in future. What needs to happen for this to be achieved?
We’ve already shown that we can do it, thanks to initiatives such as the DXP three-wheeled scooter. We’ve been setting the pace on the electric last mile for many years. In contrast to electric passenger vehicles, there’s a gap in the market in the commercial vehicle segment for a design that doesn’t make any compromises. A technology trendsetter is lacking. That’s not something we can change. Partly at the initiative of Swiss Post, politicians have launched the appropriate process to adjust the permitted weight (payload), due to the heavier weight of the electric vehicles. Certain incentives from cantons and municipalities could assist with giving preference in conurbations to drivers who use alternative drive technologies.
Swiss Post is moving ahead with e-mobility. Is it acceptable to spend more money on this than on conventional vehicles? Will all of the vehicles we need be electrified in time for Swiss Post to meet its target of full electrification?
The goal is ambitious, but it’s realistic. The question is not whether but when we will be able to cover the last mile solely using electric vehicles. This dovetails with Swiss Post’s strategy to heavily reduce CO2 emissions. There are still some general conditions we need to work on, such as charging infrastructure, particularly in rural areas.
Swiss Post is committed to the Confederation’s Roadmap 2022 and the EV100 international initiative. How do you define Swiss Post’s role in these kinds of projects?
We’re leading by example. We’re the biggest logistics company in Switzerland, and we have a universal service obligation that requires us to deliver parcels and letters to every region in Switzerland each day. It’s our aim and our obligation to implement this in the most efficient and environmentally-friendly way possible, taking into account the available technologies. Swiss Post also needs to take on a pioneering role in this issue.
How do you see the role of Post Company Cars, as a center of expertise for e-mobility within the Group and also within the fleet management industry?
Post Company Cars is the biggest fleet operator in Switzerland that is not affiliated with any particular brand. It has extensive experience with all vehicle categories. The sheer number of vehicles and the widespread presence of Swiss Post, as its biggest customer, offers the opportunity to trial alternative technologies. Post Company Cars has actively done so for many years. This expert status is reinforced by its role in operating complex fleet structures that also include alternative technologies such as e-mobility.
You’re the Chair of the Board of Directors at Post Company Cars, but have also had experience with the company as a customer. What did you particularly like as a customer, and where is there room for improvement?
I’ve been privileged enough to have been extremely well looked after at all times. I believe that the company is not just a reference point for the Swiss fleet market in terms of technology, but also because of its proximity to customers and the customer experience.
Dr Dieter Bambauer
Dr Dieter Bambauer has been Head of PostLogistics and a Member of Swiss Post’s Executive Management since 2009. He studied Business Administration and obtained his doctorate in Münster and Giessen. After working for around ten years in logistics management in various European commercial and industrial companies, he joined the Executive Board of Kühne + Nagel Management AG in Schindellegi in 1999. In 2003, he moved to Deutsche Bahn AG to head a business unit at DB Cargo. From 2005 to 2009, Dieter Bambauer served as CEO of Schenker AG’s Swiss subsidiary and its affiliate Hangartner AG. Dr Bambauer is also a Member of the Management Committee of the Chair for Logistics Management at the University of St Gallen.