DFDS to begin UK electric truck rollout

By Categories: NewsPublished On: Monday 1 July 2024

Transport and logistics giant DFDS, which already runs an extensive fleet of heavy duty electric vehicles in Europe, says it will begin electrifying its UK operation from this quarter.

The company was promoting the move on its stand at the Multimodal event at the NEC Birmingham last month (pictured), where it showcased a 44-tonne electric Volvo.

Initially, around 25 Volvo FM Electric trucks will take to the roads, with DFDS operations in Peterborough and the Shetland Islands set to be the first to deploy the new vehicles this autumn.

Hypnos, a bed manufacturer which supplies the Royal Family, will be among customers to benefit from the new electric trucks, with two being assigned to its operations. Up to six trucks are expected to be deployed in the Shetlands.

DFDS, which says it currently has the largest fleet of heavy-duty electric vehicles in Europe, expects the 25 Volvo FMs to be “just the beginning” of its electrification project in the UK.

DFDS received international attention in 2021 when the company placed the largest order ever for Volvo heavy duty electric trucks, of 125 units. Today, around a hundred EVs are in operation within its fleet – most of them in Gothenburg in Sweden – and it recently ordered a further 100.

However, the company says that the road from fossil fuels to electricity “is lined with big challenges,” citing charging infrastructure and access to green electricity as critical factors.

“In Sweden, that part both took longer and was significantly more expensive than we thought,” said Henrik Ageflod, head of trucking management at DFDS.

“We had to take matters into our own hands and built a facility in Gothenburg with 38 charging points, which is one of the largest in Sweden.”

While DFDS’ investment in building charging infrastructure is continuing in several parts of Northern Europe, the company says that the situation in the UK is somewhat different than in Scandinavia.

“In UK we are interested to collaborate with other organisations who can be responsible for the infrastructure,” said Mr Ageflod.

“However, the charging infrastructure should be easier to build here thanks to the geography and population density. In many places, we will get by quite a bit with a few of our own individual charging units at our depots.”

But he added: “You need to plan in a completely new way. Historically, we have been very used to having almost 100 per cent flexibility.

“Now we have to try to predict the patterns and set more fixed patterns in the routes. There is also a positive effect of this – that you can plan your day.”

DFDS says it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 1,516 tons up to the end of 2023 through its electric trucks, and plans for at least a quarter of its truck fleet to be electric by 2030.

“Our growing fleet of electric trucks will not only contribute to reducing the climate impact of our operations – it also enables DFDS to support more companies that want to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in their supply chains,” said Niklas Anderson, vice president and head of DFDS’ logistics division.