How REWE is making the switch
How REWE is making the switch
As a step towards sustainable urban freight operations, REWE has commenced its switch to intelligent electric freight by shipping with Einride in Region East. Sven Wallisch, REWE’s Head of Transport Logistics, Region East reveals how it all started, how electric transportation has been integrated seamlessly into the retailer’s daily activities, and how the partnership with Einride is characterized by reliability – ranging from the products to the people.
As urban freight transportation continues to grow, cities around the world are tightening regulations on conventional heavy-duty vehicles in order to foster cleaner, safer and healthier cities. To comply with these regulations and actively contribute to a better and more sustainable world, there is a need for businesses to make the switch to intelligent electric freight operations. In Germany, REWE is leading the change.
REWE: Early adopters of electric freight
REWE Markt is one of the leading companies in the German food retail sector with 3,800 stores. As a leader within sustainability, REWE aims to make its product ranges increasingly ecologically and socially responsible through tight collaboration with suppliers across the entire value chain. As part of this, the retailer is on a mission toward decarbonizing its transportation of goods – and in March 2023, it entered into a partnership with Einride.
For the initial deployment, a connected fleet of Einride electric trucks is transporting supplies to over 300 supermarkets in Berlin and Brandenburg. With this setup, roughly 8% of REWE’s transports within Region East have been electrified, resulting in savings of up to 189 tonnes of CO2e per year.
“As a large enterprise, we know that a complete switch of our existing fleet will take many years – both due to the fleet size but also the required investments. Therefore, we must start the switch now,” says Sven Wallisch, REWE’s Head of Transport Logistics, Region East.
REWE Region East’s fleet currently includes privately owned trucks (15%) and carrier trucks (85%). In addition to the connected electric trucks provided by Einride, the retailer will add four additional electric trucks to its own private fleet in Oranienburg later this year.
“We are 100% committed to this transformation. This is not a test for us; we are truly implementing the change in a tangible way. We have invested in our own on-site charging infrastructure, and we will also expand our private fleet with electric trucks,” says Sven. “There is no turning back for us.”
The starting point: Urban logistics
REWE’s journey toward electric started back in 2021 when REWE participated in a feasibility study by the Fraunhofer ISI innovation institute. The study explored the use of electric trucks in urban logistics. It showed that the range of currently available battery electric trucks is often sufficient to handle the urban truck routes analyzed in the study and almost half of the regional routes considered.
“For us, it was very helpful to see that a large part of inner-city delivery traffic can already be carried out fully electrically today. From a technical point of view, urban delivery traffic appeared as the simplest case of electrification,” says Sven. “This was further substantiated when Einride performed an electrification assessment of our current freight operations, highlighting the Berlin area as the strongest business case for the initial deployment of electric trucks.”
Electric urban deliveries offer numerous advantages such as complying with regulations, ranging from emission standards to outright diesel bans. Many cities also have limitations on noise levels for truck operations, particularly during the night.
“Another advantage that directly benefits the residents of urban areas, in this case the Berlin area, is the significant reduction in noise levels – down to 22 decibels. In contrast, vehicles with combustion engines typically generate about 80 decibels. Furthermore, there are financial benefits associated with going electric in many countries and urban regions,” says Sven.
Financial incentives: Tolls and tax benefits
In Germany, there is a toll system for trucks known as “Lkw Maut”; it is imposed on trucks driving along national toll roads. The toll is calculated based on the distance traveled and a per-kilometer rate, taking into account factors such as costs associated with infrastructure, air pollution, and noise pollution. However, battery electric vehicles, externally rechargeable hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel cell vehicles are exempt from these tolls.
“When making the switch to electric, costs of course play an important role. With electric trucks being exempt from these tolls, the business case for transitioning to electric becomes even stronger. Moreover, when we consider the projected fuel costs versus energy costs, along with the substantial tax benefits for electric trucks, the case is further reinforced,” says Sven.
The switch: Reliable and hassle-free
While preparing to transition to electric, REWE considered the options of electrifying on its own or with its existing carriers. However, after careful consideration, the decision ultimately led to REWE striking up a partnership with Einride to kickstart its electric transformation.
“Almost all of our service providers are very reluctant to transform to electric. They see the problems and the challenges, rather than the opportunities. Einride’s approach was quite the opposite – and it still is. From our first interaction, Einride has shown nothing but pure optimism while still being realistic – explaining the challenges while showing how they go about solving them.”
Since March 2023, REWE has been operationally live with Einride’s complete electric freight solution.
“Both the deployment and the day-to-day operations have been seamless, with everything proceeding as agreed upon – which is not a given nowadays. We haven’t experienced any differences in operations since the deployment. The electric trucks are treated no differently from any other vehicle in terms of our expectations of 100% reliability and efficiency. And so far, this has been the case,” says Sven.
“The switch ended up fully meeting our expectations, without any sacrifices. It turned out to be exactly what we’ve always hoped for: delivering goods on time in a more sustainable and intelligent way, without our customers experiencing any difference. With Einride, I feel comfortable that we have the right partner by our side to further advance electric freight.”
Experience sustainable and efficient transportation by leveraging Einride's electric freight solution. Avoid tolls, enable quieter deliveries, and reduce CO2e emissions – all while unlocking more efficient inner-city retail operations.
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