DHL Express will pilot four of these BYD battery-electric trucks in Los Angeles.

DHL Express will pilot four of these BYD battery-electric trucks in Los Angeles.

Photo: DHL

Global express-services provider DHL is piloting four BYD Class 8 battery-electric tractors in the Los Angeles area, just in time for the peak holiday shipping season.

The electric trucks are manufactured by BYD Motors and are capable of running all day on a single charge. The trucks have more than enough power and torque to operate at 82,000 pounds combined weight, according to the company. DHL plans to use the new trucks to haul goods between the DHL LAX Gateway and its local service center facilities.

The new trucks add to a U.S. alternative-fuel vehicle fleet that already includes fully electric, hybrid-electric, and clean diesel, as well as low-power electric-assist e-Cargo Cycles.

Greg Hewitt, CEO of DHL Express, said the move is another step in the company’s climate and sustainability goals. In 2017, Deutsche Post DHL Group, the parent company of DHL Express, set an ambitious goal of reducing its logistics-related emissions to net zero by 2050, called Mission 2050. In the Americas, he said, there’s a 2025 interim goal of reaching 70% clean last and first mile solutions.

During a virtual press conference as part of the virtual ACT Expo, Hewitt admitted that the company’s U.S. fleet has some catch-up to do compared to DHL’s operations in Europe. “Here in the U.S. we have over 100 electric vehicles, and those have been centered in dense urban markets, New York and San Francisco, where we found vehicles that meet the capability of less than 100 miles driven a day and we can get the load charge and density. We have 72 more on order that we will continue to deploy in markets where they meet our capability. Probably the biggest challenge is a lot of our routes are more than 250 miles a day, so we’re still looking for the right fits.”

Adding the linehaul piece to the puzzle, he said, is exciting.

What DHL has put into service is BYD 8TT tandem-axle day cab tractor. Aaron Gillmore, vice president, electric trucks, at BYD Motors, explained that they look at “a workable range or working range, so any condition he puts those trucks under, he’s able to make that route and come up with at least 20% state of charge at the end of the day, at about 125 miles. You can drive father than that depending on your load and the conditions of the road.”

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