Green transportation vision faces business challenges

Companies around the world are investing more and more in sustainable transport strategies, but there are clearly hurdles to overcome. The higher cost of going green can be one of everyone’s biggest challenges.

Steve Thompsett, Customer Director for DHL Supply Chain – APAC, agreed at the Movin’On 2021 summit that some green strategies can save money.

“The price of vehicles and the price of fuel,” he said, “are not two of those areas.”

(Photo: Volvo Group)

Convincing customers to pay extra for greener service is a whole different matter.

“Some companies really have a very green mission, and they’re willing to pay maybe a little premium,” Thompsett said. “Where freight prices are quite volatile right now – they’re definitely up rather than down – it’s pretty hard to ask anyone to pay more for green.”

Still, there’s no denying that sustainability plays a bigger role in the decision-making process that customers use to decide who will move their freight. DHL has seen this in the tenders that pass through its offices.

Transportation also has a key role to play in the journey towards net zero emissions. About 16.2% of the world’s carbon emissions came directly from transport in 2016, and 29.4% of that total came from road transport vehicles in 2018, Thompsett noted.

Savings in transport

However, improvements are being made.

The fuel efficiency of new commercial vehicles improved by 18% between 2005 and 2017, Thompsett said. Sales of battery-electric vehicles also grew by around 42% per year between 2016 and 2020, although they are still not widely available.

Companies are also finding ways to track and identify sustainable practices. Green Freight Asia, for example, uses a pair of tags to identify carriers and shippers who achieve measurable reductions in their carbon footprint.

“For carriers, this is interesting because they can measure their overall carbon footprint from their operations and fleets, and use it as an advantage when bidding for a contract with shippers,” said Jelena Kremenjas. , senior manager of the NGO’s sustainable development program.

“It is really important and in the interest of companies to understand their carbon footprint because it will also be one of the eligibility criteria for sustainable finance when they want to raise capital or attract investors, as well as required from clients. and customers already. “

This will involve more than just vehicles. Green Freight Asia, for example, measures factors such as the energy consumed in warehouses and logistics centers. But truck fleets have a role to play as well, and they evolve to help achieve goals.

Today’s battery-powered electric trucks that offer a range of 300 km between charges can cover 45% of freight transport in Europe, said Marco Bonaveglio, Volvo Trucks Market Manager – Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

Ongoing tests seek to further extend the applications.

Volvo and DHL are testing a 60-tonne battery-powered FH truck that travels 150 km between two freight terminals in Sweden. “Both companies are learning a lot,” Bonaveglio says, referring to questions about weight, range and charge.

In the second half of this decade, Volvo expects to see the emergence of hydrogen-powered electric vehicles to support long-haul operations.

“We actually need to have the right mix of the two technologies, where the sweet spot will vary between applications,” he said. Battery-powered electric trucks are great for shorter distances, waste management, and lightweight construction, but long-haul work should rely on fuel cells.

An electric battery-powered Volvo FL day cab requires four battery packs to achieve a range of 200 km, he said. Pushing that range to 300km requires two more batteries, essentially compromising a ton of payload.

But the OEM is committed to a sustainable future.

Bonaveglio said: “We are part of the problem and we definitely want to be part of the solution.”

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