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Making a sustainable fleet: Can we electrify heavy-duty transport?

Decarbonizing heavy-duty road transport is a real challenge, but it must be solved. DHL Freight and Mercedes-Benz Trucks have partnered in Germany to introduce electric vehicles in heavy-duty transport, adding to our growing sustainable vehicle fleet.

Driving change in diesel-dominated, heavy-duty transport

Trucks that carry goods over long distances use a lot of diesel fuel. That needs to change. The logistics industry must find cleaner ways to transport heavy loads without slowing operations. This will support global efforts to combat climate change and help us achieve our own sustainability goals.

While electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming more common for delivering mail and packages right to your door, which we call last-mile deliveries, using EVs for moving large amounts of goods over long distances, like between cities, is still pretty rare. The technology exists to build heavy-duty electric trucks for these longer trips, also known as line-haul operations, but it’s expensive and requires the proper charging setup and partners to make it work.

DHL Freight in Germany is working on this challenge to show that fully electric tractor-trailers can handle big jobs over longer distances just as well as traditional diesel trucks. 

A special kind of partnership

Mercedes Benz truck Actros

To tackle this challenge, DHL Freight teamed up with Mercedes-Benz Trucks to roll out the battery-electric eActros 300, a heavy-duty model designed explicitly for regional transportation.

The eActros 300 is a powerful truck with two electric engines and a peak output of up to 400 kW. It can travel about 220 kilometers before needing a recharge, which takes just over an hour to go from 20% to 80% at a charging capacity of up to 160 kW.

With a maximum weight of 19 metric tons, these are DHL Freight’s first heavy battery electric tractor-trailers in Germany. 

This partnership is even more unique because we’re using one of the eActros 300 trucks to transport freight between a DHL distribution center and the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kassel, a Daimler Truck location.

Paving the way to greener roads

Actros cockpit

By working together, DHL and Mercedes-Benz are exploring ways to utilize more EVs in logistics and offer carbon-free deliveries to more customers. This helps them reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet their sustainability targets.

This initiative is also part of our broader strategy to increase the share of electric vehicles in our growing sustainable fleet. It complements our 2030 targets to electrify 60% of our last-mile delivery vehicles and increase the share of sustainable fuels to more than 30%. 

Our 2030 Targets

60%

of our last-mile-delivery vehicles electrified

man charges electric car
dhl plane

>30%

share of sustainable fuels

A model for more

The success of these first eActros 300 trucks will hopefully serve as a model for our operations in other locations and for widespread adoption across the logistics industry, encouraging other companies to invest in similar technologies.

We’re testing similar models with other alternative technologies, such as hydrogen and biofuels like HVO, to understand their potential and integrate them into our fleet.


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Technology mix for the future

This project shows the power of collaboration between manufacturers and logistics companies. So far, the Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 has proven that big, heavy vehicles can run on electricity and still do the job well.

But the future of alternative fuels is far from clear, especially for long-distance road transport. By embracing these technologies and sharing our successes, we hope to lead by example and help encourage a sector-wide shift towards more sustainable business practices and ultimately a better world.

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Published: May 2024


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