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DHL Teams With Volvo Trucks To Speed Up Transition To Fossil-Free Trucking

Electric buses, electric garbage trucks, and even electric construction equipment are becoming more and more commonplace in urban landscapes, but there’s still some debate over whether or not battery electric vehicles will take over open-road, long distance trucking any time soon. To help make the case that electric trucking is the way forward, DHL Freight and Volvo Trucks have partnered to speed up the introduction of heavy duty electric trucks to be used for regional transport throughout Sweden.

Image courtesy of Volvo Trucks

“Our aim is to reduce all logistics-related emissions to zero,” explains Uwe Brinks, CEO at DHL Freight. “Important milestones have already been achieved in meeting this: compared to 2007, our Group’s CO2 efficiency has improved by 35%. 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.”

Along with the announcement was word that DHL Freight has introduced a climate-focused shipping program in Sweden, wherein customers who’ve opted into the program pay a fixed surcharge for every package or pallet shipped with DHL, with the revenue generated from those surcharges being fully invested in environmental initiatives — programs like REEL and the Gothenburg Green City Zone we covered last month — within Sweden.

If it’s successful, the move to battery electric trucking could be one of the final nails in the coffin of expensive hydrogen fuel cell projects like Nikola Trucks and Volvo’s own recently acquired Daimler truck division. After all, over the road trucking is often cited as one area that quick refueling needs could prevent the widespread adoption of battery EVs, so a project like this could have big repercussions. That said, Tesla is betting big on its electric semi program, and betting against super rich guy Elon Musk seems to be — let’s just go with “inadvisable,” shall we?

I think that’s generous.

As for the truck itself, the all-electric Volvo FH heavy trucks being used in the DHL Freight pilot program have GVWR ratings of up to 60 tons. (!) And, starting next month, they’ll be operating between two DHL Freight logistics terminals in Sweden, a little under 100 miles apart from one another.

Image courtesy Volvo Trucks.

So, it’s not exactly long distance, over the road trucking covering hundreds of miles in a single shift like we’re probably used to seeing here in the US (where, oddly enough, the Volvo VNR electric truck chassis are already on sale), but it’s a start. And, for their parts, Volvo and DHL both think they’ll gain important experience and information about setting up and operation of an adequate charging infrastructure that works for them, at least, and their collected insights should also help to optimize the right balance between operated distance, load weights, and charging points for once the trucks become available to other customers down the road.

What do you guys think? Is this a solid first step by DHL and Volvo Trucks to start cutting back on fossil fuel use in heavy trucking, or are the short distances and endpoint charging systems involved just setting us up for some happy PR while development of controversial hydrogen fuel cell power trains continues in the background? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Source | Images: DHL Freight, Volvo Trucks.

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Written By

I've been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and have been a part of the Important Media Network since 2008. You can find me here, working on my Volvo fansite, riding a motorcycle around Chicago, or chasing my kids around Oak Park.


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