Germany quietly shelves idea of Deutsche Bahn privatisation
The German government has quietly scrapped plans to look into partly privatising railway operator Deutsche Bahn after a Reuters report last week prompted a backlash from members of Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition.
Under pressure from the Social Democrats (SPD), who have always been wary of selling off one of the country's biggest companies, the coalition changed the wording in a report on state assets that had previously described such a step as an ‘option’ for the future.
The revised report approved by the cabinet on Wednesday now reads: "The conditions for a partial privatisation of the transport and logistics divisions (of Deutsche Bahn) are currently not right."
A previous version of the finance ministry document stated the participation of private investors in Deutsche Bahn should be investigated. The SPD-run economy ministry insisted on a change in the wording, Deputy Finance Minister Johannes Geismann said in a letter sent to other ministries.
Steffen Seibert, spokesman for the conservative Merkel, told a news conference that "ambiguous wording in the draft report that could have led to the assumption of possible privatisation activity at Deutsche Bahn was replaced by clear language".
The German government had wanted to sell a minority stake in Deutsche Bahn during Merkel's first term, but cancelled the plan when the global financial crisis hit in 2008.
In its report on state assets, the government is laying out plans for the possible privatisation of stakes in firms such as Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Post.
Merkel's "grand coalition" promises to balance the federal budget next year for the first time since 1969. Selling such stakes could help it do that at a time of slowing growth. It could also free up cash for public investments when Merkel is under pressure to spend more to stimulate the economy.
The government holds a 31.7 percent stake in Deutsche Telekom and a 21 percent stake in Deutsche Post. Together, the stakes could fetch about €24 billion, though the government could choose to sell a portion rather than all of its shares.
More information can be found at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/11/19/germany-privatisation-deutsche-bahn-idINL6N0T94E320141119
FedEx is Reshaping Last Mile with Autonomous Vehicles
FedEx is embarking on an expanded test of autonomous, driver-less delivery vehicles to develop its last-mile logistics.
The US logistics firm piloted autonomous vehicles from Nuro in April this year, and the pair will now explore that further in a multi-year partnership. Cosimo Leipold, Nuro’s head of partnerships, said the collaboration "will enable innovative, industry-first product offerings that will better everyday life and help make communities safer and greener".
FedEx will explore a variety of on-road use cases for the autonomous fleet, including multi-stop and appointment-based deliveries, going beyond more traditional applications of the technology in single-route movement of goods from A-B. Exponential growth in ecommerce is spurring its broader experimentation in new autonomy solutions, Fed-Ex says, both in-warehouse and on-road.
“FedEx was built on innovation, and it continues to be an integral part of our culture and business strategy,” said Rebecca Yeung, Vice President, Advanced Technology and Innovation, FedEx Corporation. “We are excited to collaborate with an industry leader like Nuro as we continue to explore the use of autonomous technologies within our operations.”
The changing role of couriers
Unlike structured delivery networks, operating under long-term partnerships and contracts, agility is where couriers deliver true value - and their ability to deftly solve last-mile fulfilment has most acutely been felt during the pandemic. For the billions of people around the world forced to stay at home to protect themselves and their communities from the spreading COVID-19 virus, couriers have been a constant. They may have been the only knock at the door some people experienced for weeks or months at a time.
But the last-mile has been uprooted by a boom in ecommerce, a shift that has been most apparent in the UK, US, China and Japan, according to the Global Parcel Delivery Market Insight Report 2021 by Apex Insight. These are markets with dominant economies and populations used to running their lives with a tap of a screen or double-click of a mouse.
“Getting last mile delivery right has long been a challenge for retailers,” says Kees Jacobs, Vice President, Consumer Goods and Retail at Capgemini. “In 2019, 97% of retail organisations felt their last-mile delivery models were not sustainable for full-scale implementation across all locations. Despite increasing demand from customers, companies were struggling to make the last mile profitable and efficient.”
Jacobs says that the pandemic alleviated some of these stresses in the short term. With no other option, consumers were understanding and tolerant, if not entirely happy, with longer delivery times and less transparent tracking. “But, as extremely high delivery demand continues to be normal, customers will expect brands to contract their delivery times,” he adds.
Last mile's role in ESG
Demand and volume weren’t the only things that have changed during the pandemic - businesses looked closer to home and as a result became more sustainable. Bricks and mortar stores were transformed from mini-showrooms to quasi-fulfilment centres. Online retailers and other businesses sought local solutions to ship more faster. In densely populated London, UK alone, Accenture found that delivery van emissions dropped by 17%, while Chicago, USA and Sydney, Australia saw similar emissions savings.