has ordered 12 electric cargo aircraft from an American supplier, with the aim of deploying them as the world’s first all-electric parcel delivery fleet in 2024.
The courier service unit of Deutsche Post DHL Group has ordered the fully electric aeroplanes from Seattle-based start-up Eviation as part of its plans to cut carbon emissions
“With this engagement DHL aims to set up an unparalleled electric express network and make a pioneering step into a sustainable aviation future,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday. It did not disclose the price.
The plane ordered, known as Alice, can carry 1.2 tonnes of cargo or nine passengers. It can be charged up in 30 minutes per flight hour, and has a maximum range of 815 kilometres.
Founded in 2015 in Israel where it has a research and development unit, Eviation assembled its first planes in the US, where it plans to conduct flight tests.
It was acquired by the Clermont Group, a Singaporean conglomerate, in 2019 for an undisclosed sum. Clermont has also invested in US-based MagniX, a developer of propulsion systems for electric aircraft.
US regional airline Cape Air was Eviation’s first customer, having agreed to buy a number of planes in 2019 for commuter routes, according to a Bloomberg report.
“We firmly believe in a future with zero-emission logistics
… the electrification of every transport mode plays a crucial role and will significantly contribute to our overall sustainability goal of zero emissions,” said John Pearson, CEO of DHL Express.
It is not yet known whether any of the 12 planes will be deployed in Hong Kong
or mainland China, a Hong Kong-based DHL Express spokeswoman said.
By 2030, Deutsche Post DHL aims to plough €
7 billion (US$8.31 billion) into electric delivery vehicles, sustainable aviation fuels and carbon-neutral buildings under its sustainability road map announced in the first quarter of this year.
The company unveiled a target in 2017 to achieve net zero emissions from its logistics operations by 2050.
It aims to cut annual carbon emissions to below 29 million tonnes by 2030 from 33 million tonnes last year, partly by deploying 80,000 electric delivery vans that will make up 60 per cent of its fleet.
DHL, which employs some 570,000 people in 220 different territories, said it accounted for 0.4 per cent of the logistics sector’s emissions last year.
Rival UPS unveiled a plan in April to buy electric aircraft that will take off and land on properties – similar to drones – from US-based Beta Technoloiges to serve some of its small and mid-sized markets. The planes will have 0.63 tonnes of cargo capacity and a range of 402km.
Tennessee-based FedEx aims to achieve carbon-neutral operations globally by 2040, via US$2 billion of initial investment in vehicle electrification, sustainable energy usage and carbon capture and sequestration. It also plans to modernise and reduce the fuel consumption of its aircraft.
The global aviation industry is responsible for around 2 per cent of all carbon dioxide emissions produced by humans. Flights of over 1,500km produce 80 per cent of aviation emissions, according to the Air Transport Action Group, a non-profit industry association.