DHL Express in EV step as it awaits more range

By: Rob McKay

International delivery firm to use Kangoo ZE locally for internal needs as next model breaks cover

DHL Express in EV step as it awaits more range
The new DHL Express Kangoo ZE driven by Shirley Cheney is pictured in front of DHL’s Sydney head office with: VP Australia Operations Scott Elliot; CEO Oceania Gary Edstein; first choice senior advisor Olivera Goodwin


DHL Express Australia’s green policy push in vans has taken another step. But while range remains a stumbling block to more progress, that might change soon.

The international delivery company aims to reduce carbon emissions globally and has trialled Renault’s Kangoo ZE recently.

Now the local arm will use a new one as the company mail car in Sydney, driving between DHL Express offices.

Dependent upon the driving style and conditions, it can be on the road for an average of four hours, an equivalent travelling distance of 100km on a single charge, DHL says.

The vehicle runs on a lithium-ion battery and takes six to nine hours to complete a full charge.

DHL Express Oceania CEO and senior vice president Gary Edstein says the move is "another significant step" towards instituting more environmentally friendly solutions across the company.

"As a global company, we acknowledge the environmental impact of our day-to-day operations and our responsibility to reduce this wherever possible," Edstein adds.

"Globally, we have seen a 30 per cent improvement in our carbon efficiency since 2008 – and we are aiming to further improve this through new green initiatives like this electric vehicle."

Overseas, DHL Express has introduced electric vehicles, including electric vans and scooters, on routes in Germany, Japan and Taiwan.

DHL’s parent company, Deutsche Post DHL Group, will also proceed with increased production of its own StreetScooter electric vehicle in this year.

"We are exploring with Germany about the possibility of having the Streetscooter


in Australia, but there aren’t any concrete updates to report," a DHL spokesperson says

The company announced on March 8 the ambitious target of reducing all logistics-related emissions to zero by 2050.

On the road to achieving this, it has also outlined a number of interim goals, including increasing its carbon efficiency by 50 per cent and operating 70 per cent of its own first- and last-mile delivery with clean transport solutions by 2025.  

"We looked to our DHL Express colleagues around the world to see the solutions they had developed and were inspired by the success of electric vehicles in these countries," Edstein says.

"In 2016, we trialled an electric courier van delivering to Sydney’s CBD, and found that a wider rollout of electric vehicles within DHL Express Australia’s courier fleet would require more conveniently located electric charging stations in cities across the country, and vans that can travel longer distances without needing to recharge.

"Compared to small, densely populated European and Asian cities where electric vehicles are currently operating, Australian cities have unique geographical challenges in terms of distance."

Bigger battery

That speed-hump may be levelled soon, for DHL’s view of the Kangoo, with the Renault-Nissan Alliance announcing a revised Kangoo ZE with a more powerful battery that delivers a longer range, up to 270km between recharging, as measured by the standardised test cycle.

This adds 100km to the previous range of the earlier Kangoo ZE, and should the van get the green light for Australia, this is the powerpack that would be offered.

The new battery sees Renault say the new Kangoo ZE has the longest range of any fully electric LCV, while a further benefit is that it also allows for swift charging times, with a new 7kW 32A charger making it more practical for business users – a full charge for the more powerful battery taking six hours.

It adds a new ZE 33 (33kW) battery, a new R60 (44kW) motor and is the first electric LCV to be equipped with a heat pump, allowing it to maintain autonomy in cold weather.

The new Kangoo ZE reaches European dealers around mid-year.

Market speculation put an Australian launch this year but later than that, with the focus, perhaps, on serious buyers willing to invest in the relevant recharging gear rather than general release.

"The Kangoo ZE has been a success in Europe, where several fleets, for example France Post and Posten, the Norwegian Postal Service, have taken delivery of large numbers of these vans for local delivery duties," Renault Australia zero emission and projects manager Elena Woods says.

"The company that manages France’s electricity distribution network, ERDF, runs one of that country’s largest electric vehicle fleets, with 1,500 Kangoo ZE vans on the road.

"The Kangoo ZE impresses everyone who drives it and if the experience of France Post is any guide, the Kangoo ZE wastes no time in winning the hearts of its drivers, so much so that the company found it difficult to get drivers to switch back to diesel powered vans after having had a taste of the battery-powered version."  



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