The CEO of DHL eCommerce India spoke to Nilesh Wadhwa on the company's strategy to promote green mobility, their growth patterns in India and the intentions behind introducing 'SmarTrucking' an innovative trucking solution in India.
In Europe, DHL has included Daimler-made Fuso electric trucks in its fleet. Are you planning to have a similar EV fleet in India?
Obviously, as part of the DHL’s commitment, ‘Zero Emission Policy by 2050’, we are absolutely looking at all these things. The government is already working towards facilitating it. You need infrastructure, charging stations along the highway. All this needs to be there.
Sun Mobility, an Indian pioneer in electric mobility, had showcased the swappable battery technology for two- three- and commercial-vehicles this year. The company said it will look at partnerships with various stakeholders to take this forward. Would DHL look at an opportunity like this?
Actually, we have a separate team that is exploring the whole green technology scenario. This will not just impact smart trucking, but all the other businesses as well. It is a separate agenda, and to answer your question, yes, we are exploring this space including from the Indian vendors and other networks where we have had a similar experience. We have already introduced Street Scooter, a subsidiary of Deutsche Post DHL Group, so we already have examples. We will compare what’s best and what works for us, and we will take our decision locally.
The reason we haven’t mentioned investment figure is because we will invest as much as it takes. We were told very clearly by our Group, you ensure that you transform the space. Whatever investment is needed we will give it to you. That’s why we are not coming upfront on any number. You see, time will tell how much we invested and what has happened when we meet again in a year.
What’s the growth pattern for DHL in India?
SmartTrucking has just been launched; we have got 150 trucks on the road right now. It’s been pretty good and it validated what we have said. We got customers just calling up and saying, “Just give us the Smart Trucks.”
By end of the year, how much will Smart Trucking contribute towards the company’s growth?
This move is for a long haul, we are not here to take any shortcuts. We are not just investing in the trucks, but also the people, the culture, that is agile, innovative, technology-oriented, smart-young people with the go-getter attitude. We are putting a lot into this, for me it is not about how much market share we gain. I believe this will dramatically alter the situation when you bring this in and see the opportunity that it has opened up.
One of the challenges that you also have mentioned is that driving as a profession in India does not get the same respect as it does in developed countries.
So, therefore, this technology has changed that — long driving hours and fatigue conditions have changed. We have the relay-model wherein the driver can come back to his family in a short time. He is trained on technology, we are giving driver skilling and behaviour etiquettes about driving on the road. He has got a vehicle that is not a run-of-the-mill vehicle. These are new vehicles and we will continuously ensure that. We have upgraded them and they are not drivers to us, they are smart-truckers and we are giving them a lot of recognition including awards.
(This interview was first published in the June 15 2018 issue of Autocar Professional)