Transportation and distribution operations are primarily responsible for the DHL Group’s Scope 3 emissions, which the company aims to reduce by 25 percent between 2022 and 2030. DHL has also committed to reducing logistics-related emissions to net zero by 2050.
Early in 2023, the Group tested the Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 Tractor for several days in Germany, transporting around 12 tonnes of material from the DHL Freight Terminal in Hagen near Dortmund to the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kassel, around 175km away, without stopping for charging. The electric truck, recharged in Kassel, covered a total of 350km per day.
The success in Germany encouraged DHL to introduce eActros 300 in the UAE. Consequently, DHL Saloodo!, DHL’s digital freight forwarding platform, is the first customer of the Mercedes-Benz eActros 300 Tractor electric truck in the UAE.
The 4x2 axle configuration and semi-trailer electric truck has a gross combination weight of up to 40 tonnes and payload capacity of 10.4 tonnes. Three battery packs, each with an installed battery capacity of 112 kWh, deliver a range of up to 220 km on a single charge.
Tobias Maier, CEO–Middle East and Africa, DHL Saloodo! said: “Road freight accounts for over 20 percent of DHL’s total CO2 emissions, which presents a big opportunity for us to reduce Scope 3 emissions by decarbonising trucking. Therefore, investing in electric trucks is a logical progression for our road freight business.”
Sustainable land freight
Having an asset-light business model, DHL Saloodo! procured the eActros300 Tractor in the UAE through its trucking partner Al Safa Transport.
“Several local and multinational companies have their ESG strategies aligned with business goals. We have the opportunity to connect such companies with like-minded fleet operators. Al Safa Transport is a dependable DHL partner that shares our vision to decarbonise trucking the UAE,” said Maier.
DHL Saloodo! plans to utilise the eActros 300 for urban freight distribution, mainly for pre-carriage to the Jebel Ali Port in Dubai. A typical round trip from the point of origin would cover distances of 100–150 km. DHL would also utilise the truck for on-carriage from the Jebel Ali port to Dubai and Abu Dhabi destinations.
The long-term partnership with Al Safa Transport ensures that DHL Saloodo! will have exclusive access to the eActros 300. While Al Safa Transport will manage drivers and ensure vehicle uptime, DHL will take full responsibility for vehicle utilisation and route planning.
“We plan to utilise the eActros 300 for at least three daily trips, which we estimate will achieve utilisation rates of 60–70 percent compared to diesel trucks. We are confident that we will be able to close the gap once our electric truck is fully operational,” said Maier.
A joint venture between DHL Global Forwarding and Etihad Rail enables DHL to adopt rail as a primary mode of transport and explore more sustainable transportation business models in the UAE. For example, the eActros 300 could be utilised for on-carriage from the Jebel Ali port to the nearest Etihad Rail freight terminal, followed by rail transportation to the UAE-Saudi border.
DHL Saloodo! plans to operate its AC and DC fast charging stations in Abu Dhabi and Dubai to avoid range anxiety for intercity deliveries. The eActros 300 Tractor supports DC fast charging up to 160kW. The truck batteries can be charged from 20 percent to 80 percent in 1.25 hours at a DC fast-charging station with a charging current of 400A.
Maier said: “We will deploy both AC and fast DC chargers and test different configurations according to the routes and delivery times of the truck. DC fast chargers will become necessary as we expand the number of electric trucks.
We are committed to implementing a sustainable charging strategy that uses solar power and energy storage systems for the charging stations. We are hopeful that load management options will be available to fleet operators in the near future.”
Long-term partnership with Daimler Truck
Series production of the eActros 300 truck is scheduled to start in Germany in the fall of 2023. Emirates Motor Company Commercial Vehicles, the authorised general distributor of Daimler Commercial Vehicles in Abu Dhabi, will import the truck into the UAE and deliver it to DHL in the fourth quarter of 2023.
Maier said Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA and Emirates Motor Company CV have cooperated in helping the company procure the eActros 300 ahead of its series production.
DHL Global Forwarding is also invested in the timely availability of genuine parts for Mercedes-Benz trucks, including batteries and parts for electric trucks in the MENA region, through a strategic long-term partnership with Daimler Commercial Vehicles MENA to operate the Daimler Truck Parts Centre in Dubai.”
(Reporting by Dennis Daniel; Editing by Anoop Menon)
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