Transform City Logistics


City Logistics


BPW is leveraging over 100 years of expertise in vehicle axles to develop new solutions for emission-free city transport. One of the company’s innovations is already humming through the streets and parks of Berlin. The city’s waste disposal authority BSR has already had eight Mercedes Vario 7.5-ton trucks converted by the special vehicle specialist Paul in Vilshofen on the Danube for a new noise- and emission-free life on the Spree River – diesel out, electric axle from BPW in, because the axle is the motor’s new home.

In July 2020, BSR placed an order with Paul for the electrification of 20 more Vario trucks. Berlin’s water utility company has also expressed interest. BSR’s investment is not only sensible in terms of climate policy, but also financially sustainable, as special municipal vehicles are extremely expensive. Purchasing them only makes financial sense because they can be used for up to 20 years and more. Retrofitting them to operate electrically gives the municipal vehicles a new lease of life without noise and diesel smoke and reduces operating costs because the electric motor requires hardly any maintenance and is charged at night at the depot. In addition, the conversion of existing municipal vehicles to electric power is financed by the German government’s “Clean Air” subsidy programme.

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The leading fashion logistics company Logwin is already using two E-Vario trucks with BPW drive axles in Vienna. During the coronavirus lockdown, Logwin used them to supply pharmacies with articles that do not require cooling. Logwin – like BSR – relies on truck telematics from idem telematics.


» The older Mercedes Vario trucks are valuable to us and popular with the drivers. The ability to retrofit them and turn the old diesel-powered vehicles into new ones that can be used for another six to eight years is extremely attractive. «

Wolfgang Wüllhorst,
BSR fleet manager

The regular use of the eTransport drive axle in Berlin is an important milestone for BPW and Paul Nutzfahrzeuge. And the next milestone is soon to follow – the drive system will also soon be available for the first time in a new vehicle. Work on a corresponding carrier platform is already in full swing. BPW determined through an industry survey that there is demand among logistics companies for such a vehicle concept – and the company has already received concrete orders. Research projects with RWTH Aachen University and scientifically monitored practical tests with Logwin in Austria and Hellmann Worldwide Logistics have demonstrated the possible applications in distribution logistics.

In recent years, BPW developers have repeatedly fine-tuned the design of the electric axle drive, its control software, battery management and countless other details. BPW has joined forces with Thermo King, the world market leader in transport cooling, to develop valuable expertise that will also enable noise- and emission-free cooling logistics in inner-city distribution transport in the future. The goal is for a generator integrated in the axle to recover enough energy during driving operation to power the cooling unit electrically – and as quiet as a whisper. Intelligent control and sensor technology ensure that the generator makes optimum use of the route profile for energy recovery, charging during braking and when driving downhill and disengaging automatically when driving uphill. Mechatronic, electrical and telematics systems, axle and running gear technologies – the developers are drawing on the experience of the entire BPW Group for the ePower project. It promises much more than a reduction in exhaust and noise emissions, namely the chance to effectively spread out distribution transport flows. In this way, for example, supermarkets could be supplied at night outside rush hours without the refrigeration unit waking up nearby residents. Thus, ePower not only unlocks new potential for transport companies, but also protects them from political intervention, as loading and unloading times are being regulated more restrictively in an increasing number of urban areas. The Dutch government is also calling for carbon neutrality in inner-city low emission zones by 2030, with other EU countries expected to follow suit.

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»Companies that want to implement night logistics cannot coordinate the individual steps with each municipality – there need to be general regulations in place.«

Birgit Heitzer, Head of Corporate Logistics, REWE Group

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A low-noise refrigeration unit is the key to whisper-quiet delivery to supermarkets outside rush hours. The ePower generator is expected to save around 4,000 euros in fuel and maintenance costs per year – another way the transport company benefits. A modular design is intended to enable use in a wide variety of vehicle and body concepts. BPW engineers have been putting the first axles through their paces on test tracks since August 2020, to be followed by field tests with logistics experts a year later.

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Working together on a sustainable energy solution for refrigerated trailers, from left to right: Thore Bakker and Dr. Markus Kliffken from BPW together with Francesco Incalza and Bernd Lipp from Thermo King (The photograph was taken before the coronavirus crisis)

»For decades, Thermo King has been committed to playing a leading role in the refrigerated transport industry and always offering its customers the best solution. We are a leader in electrification and have the widest range of zero-emission and low-emission solutions across all market segments. Our customers appreciate the fact that we continuously advance our solutions for the industry. Our partnership with BPW is an excellent example of this approach and brings us closer to our sustainability goals for 2030. Furthermore, we will also be reducing noise, CO2 and other exhaust emissions in this industry.«

Francesco Incalza, President of Thermo King for Europe, the Middle East and Africa