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DHL Launches Electric Vehicle, Flies New Fuel-Efficient Freighter

DHL is making moves to enhance its strategy of sustainable delivery and transportation both on the ground and in the air.

Advancing its use of alternative fuels, DHL Express and electric vehicle maker StreetScooter are collaborating on a new electric delivery vehicle. The new “H2 Panel Van” will become the first 4.25 ton electric vehicle with an added fuel cell that will offer additional power and enable a range of up to 500 kilometers.

In a first step, DHL Express has ordered 100 of the fuel cell vehicles, with delivery expected from 2020 through 2021. Markus Reckling, CEO DHL Express Germany, said the new van fits in to the group’s larger environmental goals.

“With the H2 Panel Van, DHL Express becomes the first express provider to use a larger number of electric vehicles with fuel cells for last-mile logistics,” Reckling said. “This underscores our aspiration to be not only the fastest and most reliable provider on the market, but also the most climate friendly. The H2 Panel Van is another example of how Deutsche Post DHL Group is working towards its zero-emission goal for 2050.”

Fabian Schmitt, chief technical officer at StreetScooter, said “fuel cells will play an increasing role in electric-powered transport, since they can give battery electric vehicles the kind of range that is so important for so many customers.”

The H2 Panel Van, which is based on the StreetScooter WORK XL delivery vehicle already used by DHL Parcel, features a cargo capacity of more than 10 cubic meters, with a maximum payload of over 800 kilograms.

Moving from ground to air, the first of the new Boeing 777 Freighters (B777F) ordered by DHL took off on Saturday from Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), its home operating base, to Bahrain on its commercial maiden flight.

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DHL said the replacement of the older intercontinental fleet with the most fuel-efficient and reliable freighter type allows the company to meet increasing global demand for express services. The new Boeing 777 will strengthen DHL’s intercontinental services and connect major DHL hubs in Cincinnati, Leipzig and Hong Kong. Operated by DHL partner Southern Air, the plane will soon start scheduled operations.

“This efficient, long-range and high-capacity freighter will enable us to serve even more markets with non-stop flights and significantly contributes to greater sustainability in line with our sustainability strategy ‘zero emission by 2050,’” John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express, said.

With a payload capability of 112 tons and a range of 9,200 kilometers, the B777 F has the largest capacity and range of all twin-engine freight airplanes. They are also more fuel efficient and reliable than older models, reducing CO2 emissions by 18 percent versus the aircraft they will replace. The older B747-400s aircraft will be gradually replaced as the new models arrive. Another three B777 F are scheduled to arrive this year.

DHL Express operates more than 260 dedicated aircraft with 17 partner airlines on 600 daily flights across 220 countries and territories.