DHL debuts 'UK's first' all-electric truck

Global logistics giant begins operations of 16 tonne electric Volvo truck for London deliveries, as government launches consultation on longer, emission-saving HGVs An electric truck can now be seen on the streets of London’s West End, after global logistics giant DHL yesterday announced it had begun operating the first purpose-built fully electric 16 tonne truck in the UK. The company said the Volvo FL Electric 4×2 rigid is now part of DHL Supply Chain’s fleet in London, making last mile deliveries into the West End shopping district. 

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The vehicle is powered by four 200 kWh batteries which provide it with a 120 mile range and capacity for 12 pallets totalling up to six tonnes.

The vehicle will undertake daily delivery operations before recharging each night at the company’s base in Purfleet. “As the market leader in contract logistics, and part of the world’s largest logistics group, we have a responsibility to reach for ambitious sustainability targets as we deliver best in class solutions for our customers,” said Ian Clough, managing director for network logistics and transport in UK and Ireland at DHL Supply Chain. “We are very proud and excited that our investment in the UK’s first operational fully-electric large commercial vehicle is just another example of how we are doing that.” He added that the truck was the “perfect solution to the challenges of urban logistics, allowing us to make deliveries in densely populated inner-city locations where air quality and noise pollution challenges are highest”.

The deal was also welcomed by Christian Coolsaet, managing director for Volvo Trucks UK and Ireland, who said that “operating a Volvo FL Electric, particularly where it can be charged with electricity from renewable sources, is a powerful step towards more sustainable city distribution”. The news comes just days after Volvo Trucks unveiled its new fleet of electric HGVs, confirming that from next year hauliers in Europe would be able to order all-electric versions of Volvo’s heavy-duty trucks. The company said it is now running tests on the electric heavy-duty Volvo FH, Volvo FM and Volvo FMX trucks, which will be used for regional transport and urban construction operations across Europe.

The trucks are set to have a gross combination weight of up to 44 tonnes and depending on battery configurations they could boast a range of up to 300 km. Sales are set to begin next year with volume production starting in 2022. The news also comes in the same week as the UK government launched a new consultation on introducing longer goods vehicles permanently to Britain’s roads as part of efforts to reduce haulage miles, emissions and accidents.

The government said a seven year trial of longer semi-trailers (LSTs) had shown that they have saved lorry drivers travelling millions of miles – cutting emissions and boosting productivity. Up until last year, the vehicles involved in the trial have saved lorry drivers 33.5 million miles and 48,000 tonnes of CO2, equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the road, the government said. The results also show the trailers were involved in fewer personal injury collisions compared with standard size HGVs.

As such, the government this week announced it would end the trials early and launch a new consultation seeking views on whether LSTs should be allowed to permanently operate on roads across the UK. “Our freight industry keeps the country moving, delivering vital goods and services every single day – which, as we all know, has never been more important than it is now, during the pandemic,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps. “These trials clearly show the benefits for business and the environment of using longer trailers. By determining the next steps to get them on our roads permanently, we can benefit industry and our economy, boost safety and cut emissions.”

The Department for Transport this week also launched a further consultation on proposals to start a trial of slightly heavier HGVs on UK roads, which could see the maximum weight of some HGVs increased by 4 tonnes to 48 tonnes. The hope is that such lorries could transport heavier containers direct to or from freight trains, helping to shift more cargo from road-only journeys onto rail, and therefore cutting emissions and congestion on our roads. Meanwhile, in a separate boost to the government’s transport decarbonisation plans new data released this week confirmed the roll out of electric vehicle (EV) chargers has accelerated once again following a slowdown earlier in the year as a result of disruption caused by the coronavirus lockdown.

Official figures for the third quarter of the year showed that as of October 1st there were 19,487 public EV charge points in the UK, representing a 18 per cent year-on-year increase.

Just over 1,200 new charge points were installed in the third quarter, up seven per cent on the previous quarter.

The total number of rapid charge points also grew nearly 10 per cent to 3,530.