DHL chief executive Frank Appel was in London last week to see an 18 tonne hybrid distribution truck – believed to be the first of its kind in the world.
So far, hybrid vehicles have been limited to 7.5 tonnes by battery and motor technology.
DHL Supply Chain currently is carrying out operational tests in various urban operations. The vehicle uses battery power for low speed, low torque work and a conventional diesel for higher speeds.
The switch between the two is designed to be seamless so that electric and diesel can be used in combination a times. Regenerative braking provides additional charge for the batteries and the vehicle never needs to be connected to the mains to charge.
Ian MacAulay, innovation manager, fleet engineering services, said: “With the promise of lower fuel consumption, improved emissions and quieter operating, we’re very keen to test and develop the technology across a number of applications. If the vehicle can replicate the savings seen on smaller hybrids, we are hopeful of achieving fuel and CO2 savings of 15 per cent.”