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DHL rolls out Manhattan-based “green” fleet

By Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
April 01, 2011

Global express delivery and logistics service provider DHL said this week that it is introducing a “green” fleet of commercial delivery vehicles for use in Manhattan.

Company officials said this move is driven by a need to reduce the impact of its delivery vehicles on the environment. The new fleet is comprised of 80 vehicles, with 30 American-made, battery powered electric vans and 50 hybrid trucks that will be on Manhattan streets by September. They added that these vehicles will reduce fossil fuel usage and CO2 emissions by more than 50 percent per year compared to conventional vehicles.

Both types of vehicles in the “green fleet” are being built by hybrid electric and electric commercial vehicle manufacturer Azure Dynamics, with Ford Motor Company producing the vehicles’ chassis.

DHL has been working with Azure since 2008 and pilot tested some of the vehicles in the Boston market, according to DHL Public Relations Manager Robert Mintz.
And he said that this multi-million dollar investment in the modern, environmentally-friendly vehicles is an integral part of DHL’s global GoGreen strategy, which is the goal of improving the company’s carbon efficiency worldwide by 30 percent by 2020, compared to 2007 base levels and was rolled out in 2008.

“As customers worldwide are increasingly demanding greener logistics, sustainable business procedures and initiatives like the one we are launching today allows DHL to serve customers via sustainable solutions and improved resource efficiency,” said Mintz.

A committed focus to a green vehicle fleet is far from new for DHL, as major objective of its GoGreen strategy focuses on adding fuel-efficient, hybrid, electric or aerodynamically modified vehicles for its global fleet, according to DHL. In the last year, DHL said it has already upgraded delivery vehicles in Europe and Asia, as well as Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and Paraguay.

GoGreen has a general goal for DHL to reduce its carbon footprint for every letter mailed, container shipped, and meter of warehouse space used.

The company’s steps to reduce its carbon footprint, as defined when it was initially introduced,  include: replacing 90 percent of its air fleet with modern, more fuel efficient aircraft, including 48 Boeing 757 Special Freighter modern cargo aircraft, which require 20 percent less fuel per ton transported than the Boeing 727 predecessors; adding aerodynamic winglets to an initial six cargo aircraft to increase the amount of lift generated at the wingtip, which raises carbon efficiency by 2-to-5 percent; increasing the use of alternative fuels and propulsion units with bio-gas fueled heavy duty trucks, delivery vans, and heavy duty trucks with biodiesel fuel blends; using hybrid engines and route planning technologies to reduce fleet fuel consumption; making changes in transportation methods or “modal shifts” from air to road, sea and rail, and road to rail; and route optimization and application of intelligent traffic guidance systems.

Adrian Gonzalez, director of ARC Advisory Group’s Logistics Executive Council, commended Deutsche Post DHL in a previous interview for outlining this program and establishing an aggressive target.

And he also noted that endeavors like this present shippers with options and benefits, too, explaining that many shippers, especially those with a strong commitment to sustainability, expect their suppliers and partners, like logistics service providers, to demonstrate a similar commitment.

“Our investment in these new green vehicles supports a more energy-efficient, low-emissions economy,” said Ian Clough, CEO for DHL Express U.S., in a statement. “Having partnered with American companies also represents an investment in the U.S. economy.”

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About the Author

Jeff Berman headshot
Jeff Berman
Group News Editor

Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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