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DHL Supply Chain widens promising electric truck pilot program

To address the ongoing climate crisis and slow global warming, governments, corporations and organizations across the globe have set their sights on a greener future. The logistics industry, specifically, has upped its focus on sustainability and eco-friendly practices over the past few years. For transportation providers, this means taking a critical look at the viability of electric vehicles as part of everyday operations.

The company has set its sights on bringing larger electric options to its contract logistics customers and is actively engaged in a fleet electrification pilot program with the ultimate goal of seeing 30 percent of its own fleet made up of either electric trucks or other non-diesel alternatives by 2030, according to Stephan Schablinski, VP GoGreen, DHL Supply Chain North America. 

“GoGreen is a DHL worldwide environmental protection program which demonstrates our strong sense of environmental responsibility and commitment to supporting our customers to grow sustainably,” according to the DHL website. “Its main objective is to reduce and avoid the emission of greenhouse gasses and local air pollutants.”

This current pilot program will provide DHL Supply Chain with the information it needs to scale up and deploy alternative fuel powered trucks as part of standard business practices. The company has proved its use case with a single electric truck, and it has started testing the technology with over a dozen trucks at various test sites with different types of terrain and weather conditions.

“We’re making a lot of progress,” Ted Valin, senior director of asset management, DHL Supply Chain North America said. “We started in early 2022 in earnest.”

DHL Supply Chain has spent the last year selecting truck manufacturers, evaluating test site operating profiles and considering different electrification incentives. Electrifying a fleet, however, requires significantly more work and planning than just acquiring and testing the trucks themselves. 

“When we talk about suppliers, we are actually talking about partners,” Schablinski said. “We need to have a lot of partners on board to build this infrastructure.”

DHL Supply Chain is working to build an ecosystem of partners to create charging infrastructure, training playbooks and maintenance options for its incoming electric trucks. These types of considerations, which are unique to electric vehicles, take time to work through, making proactive pilot programs like DHL’s crucial to staying ahead of the curve.

“For us, it is really important to figure out the differences between electric trucks and diesel trucks, and there are a lot of differences,” Schablinski said. “No one thinks about fueling infrastructure for diesel trucks. This market has had decades to build infrastructure for diesel trucks, and almost none of this is available for electric trucks. All the service stations throughout the country can service diesel trucks, but very few are able to service electric trucks.”

DHL Supply Chain knows it is on the cutting edge of electrification, and the company is watching the space closely as policies change, options evolve and new entrants emerge. It is preparing to launch these technologies at scale, while remaining flexible to the ever-changing landscape. 

“We are going to move forward but continue to watch things evolve and develop as we progress,” Valin said.

Learn more about how DHL Supply Chain is engaged in transportation innovation.

Ashley Coker

Ashley is interested in everything that moves, especially trucks and planes. She covers air cargo, trucking and sponsored content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.