Steve February 23, 2021
volvo-and-dhl-freight-team-up-to-test-electric-trucks-in-sweden

DHL Freight and Volvo Trucks have recently announced a partnership to eventually implement heavy-duty electric trucks in Europe. The agreement includes exclusive, pilot tests of a fully electric Volvo FH truck. To begin, the truck will travel between two DHL Freight logistics terminals in Sweden beginning next month.

Volvo’s electric FH truck will begin trials with DHL

According to Volvo Trucks, DHL Freight will operate an electric version of the FH heavy-duty truck across Sweden.

While Volvo Trucks has previously introduced multiple EV trucks, this project focuses on longer distances and heavier transports. Speaking of that, the pilot tests of Volvo’s fully-electric truck will offer gross combination weights up to 60 tons.

The Volvo truck donning the DHL Freight branding will operate between two logistics terminals roughly 150 km (~93 mi) apart. The route will exist between the Swedish cities of Gothenburg and Jönköping. The FH truck will charge at DHL in Jönköping and the Volvo Truck Center in Gothenburg.

During this trial, both companies hope to gain important insight regarding the setup and operation of an adequate charging infrastructure. Volvo and DHL plan to use the data gathered in Sweden to find an infrastructural sweet spot. That perfect balance between distance, weight, and charging points in daily freight operations.

DHL hopes to lower carbon emissions with Volvo

As a transport company particularly specializing in intercontinental deliveries, DHL must make immense strides to decrease its carbon footprint worldwide. In working beside Volvo trucks, the Germany-based courier appears to be taking the effort seriously. According to DHL Freight’s CEO Uwe Brinks:

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%. 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.

According to the press release, DHL Freight is also implementing other fossil-free technology projects. This includes a climate-focused shipping program in Sweden. Swedes within the program pay a fixed surcharge for every parcel or pallet shipped. Then, that generated income is fully invested into clean technologies local to Sweden.

Volvo Trucks is going all-electric too

Volvo DHL
Some of Volvo’s current electric trucks

Volvo appears to be a wise ally in the cause too. Volvo Trucks President Roger Alm has set a goal of 2040 latest, for its entire truck fleet to be fully-electric. This process began in 2019, when Volvo’s FL and Volvo FE Electric trucks began rolling out in select European countries. After that, DHL Supply Chain used an FL Electric for city distribution in London, making it the first fully electric Volvo truck built for the UK. Last December, Volvo Trucks in North America started sales of the regional transport VNR Electric truck.

These previous rollouts as well as the newly announced DHL Freight trial, show Volvo’s focus on charging and infrastructure to seamlessly transition to cleaner energy in its trucks. Volvo Truck’s President elaborated:

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. 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 it to customer needs and their type of transport operation.

Volvo’s FL electric truck on sanitation duty

Electrek’s Take

This seems like it could be a great continuation of an existing partnership between Volvo and DHL. The efforts to achieve lower emissions from a global courier are encouraging. However, they remain a small step in a much larger journey toward cleaner deliveries in Europe and worldwide.

Volvo Trucks’ recent rollout in Europe and big goals of being fully-electric by 2040 are welcomed news, too. So far, the few trucks they have produced for shorter distances and lighter payloads look effective and stylish. However, the truck division must continue to expand significantly to truly reduce emissions created by delivery and sanitation vehicles still running ICEs.

Hopefully, both parties will learn as much as possible during the Scandinavian trial, especially in terms of developing electric trucks that can travel long distances with heavier cargo. That will be vital in transitioning to electric trucks for worldwide distribution more quickly.

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