DHL Freight, one of the leading road freight providers in Europe, and Volvo Trucks have partnered to speed up the introduction of heavy duty electric trucks to be used for regional transport in Europe. One more step towards zero emissions.
DHL Freight´s and Volvo Trucks´ combined effort marks another important step towards fossil free road transport solutions on longer distances. So far, the main use of electric trucks has been for shorter distances within cities and urban areas. Now DHL Freight and Volvo Trucks have initiated a project focusing on long distance heavy transports. The cooperation includes exclusive, worldwide first pilot tests of the fully electric Volvo FH truck. Its gross combination weights are up to 60 tons.
Read more about DHL Freight’s initiatives on green logistics here.
DHL Freight road tests electric trucks
The truck operates between two DHL Freight logistics terminals in Sweden. This is a distance of approximately 150 km one way. During the trial, Volvo and DHL gain important experience and information regarding the ranges and thus the setup and operation of an adequate charging infrastructure. This will help to optimize the right balance between operated distance, load weight and charging points in daily road freight operations. DHL Freight is actively working, along with Volvo Trucks, on the reduction of their ecological footprint. Sustainability forms an integral part of the company’s strategy.
Cooperating on zero emissions
“Our aim is to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero. Important milestones have already been achieved in meeting this: compared to 2007, our Group’s CO2 efficiency has improved by 35%,” says Uwe Brinks, CEO at DHL Freight. “However, we need innovative technological solutions and strong partnerships along this journey. I’m confident that our strong cooperation with Volvo Trucks, one of the major truck brands in the world, will support us in achieving our ambitious environmental goals in the road freight sector.”
Volvo Trucks is making the transition to electrification as seamless and efficient as possible. This is done by considering every aspect of the eco-system for electrification, including charging, route planning, vehicles, service and other support.
Transitioning to battery technology
“The transport business is changing rapidly and to be sustainable is an increasingly important business advantage for many of our customers. We offer effective transport solutions that help make a fast transition to fossil-free fuels such as electricity,” says Roger Alm, President at Volvo Trucks. “We have a longstanding relationship with DHL. Their broad and global expertise in logistics allows us to study the conditions to progress with this technology shift, adapting to customer needs and their type of transport operation.”
DHL Freight is actively driving various sustainability and fossil-free technology projects and has introduced a climate-friendly shipping program in Sweden. Customers using the program pay a fixed surcharge for every parcel or pallet shipped. The income generated from the surcharges is fully invested in clean technologies within the Swedish network.
Endgame: zero emissions
“The logistics sector is facing a huge challenge, which also offers a great opportunity at the same time – the decarbonization of freight transportation. The collaboration with Volvo Trucks helps DHL Freight to play an even bigger role in the transition to sustainable alternatives and is another significant proof point for our long-term strategy towards climate-neutral transportation,” explains Robert Zander, CEO of DHL Freight Sweden.
Read more about the DPDHL strategy: GoGreen Zero Emissions.
How do electric trucks work?
Long-haul electric trucks use the same chassis and running gear as conventional trucks, only instead of a diesel drivetrain they are fitted with an electric one powered by lithium-ion batteries. Compared to other alternative drivetrains such as fuel cells and/or hydrogen, electric drivetrains are very efficient. As a result, long haul trucks of the type being tested can cover hundreds of miles between charges.
How long do the batteries in electric trucks last?
Given they share the same chassis and running gear as conventional trucks, long-haul electric trucks should have approximately the same lifespan. Lithium-ion batteries do degrade over time, however. Typically, a lithium-ion battery will last for eight years or 100,000 miles. Nevertheless, as technology improves this threshold is being pushed back and replacement batteries are becoming cheaper.
What categories of electric truck are available?
Currently, you can buy everything from an electric pickup truck through a large delivery van to an all-electric 18-wheeler, with lots of mid-range options for use in urban environments in between. Some leading manufacturers even offer their entire range of trucks (up to 44 tonnes) with an electric drivetrain.
When will electric trucks replace diesel trucks?
That is hard to say. It is still early days for electric trucks with range and recharging providing the main barriers to adoption. As a result, the transition to electric trucks will most likely come in stages with most transport companies probably running a mixed fleet of trucks powered by different fuels for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, Volvo Trucks expects its entire product range to be fossil-free by 2040.
Electric vehicle rollout
Already today, the Volvo FL Electric and Volvo FE Electric trucks for city distribution are in serial production. DHL Supply Chain recently put a new Volvo FL Electric into operation in London, thereby introducing the first purpose-built fully electric Volvo truck for city distribution in the UK.
At the end of last year, Volvo Trucks in North America started sales of the VNR Electric and this year will mark the sales start in Europe of the heavy-duty electric product range.
“Our commitment is that our entire truck sales range will be fossil-free by 2040 at the latest,” concludes Roger Alm.
The DHL Freight-Volvo-Trucks project on heavy duty electric trucks
The DHL-Volvo project is part of REEL, an initiative with funding from Sweden’s innovation agency Vinnova and the Swedish Energy Agency to promote the transition to an electrified freight transport system. The route is between the cities Gothenburg and Jönköping in Sweden, which is a distance of 150 km one way. Charging will be done at DHL Freight Terminal in Jönköping and the Volvo Truck Center in Gothenburg.