DHL Supply Chain has begun operating what it describes as the first purpose-built fully electric 16-tonne vehicle in the UK.

The Volvo FL Electric 4x2 rigid is now part of DHL Supply Chain’s fleet in London, making last mile deliveries into the West End shopping district.

The vehicle is powered by four 200 kWh batteries which can run for 120 miles, carrying a maximum of 12 pallets and weighing up to six tonnes.

It will recharge overnight at DHL’s base in Purfleet for daily operations into the city centre.

The zero emission vehicle will also be 3-star compliant to the London Direct Vision Standard with all round visibility.

DHL said the move underlined its commitment to ensuring its fleet is best in class and offers the highest possible levels of service to its supply chain customers, as well as reflecting its Go Green agenda.

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The announcement comes only six days after Volvo confirmed it will offer hauliers fully electric heavy duty trucks from next year.

The company is offering a complete heavy-duty range with electric drivelines, with tests now being undertaken of its FH, FM and FMX models for use in regional transport and urban construction operations.

Depending on the battery configuration, the truck maker said the range could be up to 300km.

Ian Clough, DHL Supply Chain MD, network logistics and transport, UK & Ireland, said: “We have a responsibility to reach for ambitious sustainability targets as we deliver best in class solutions for our customers. We are very proud and excited that our investment in the UK’s first operational fully-electric large commercial vehicle is just another example of how we are doing that.

“The Volvo FL Electric is the perfect solution to the challenges of urban logistics, allowing us to make deliveries in densely populated inner-city locations where air quality and noise pollution challenges are highest."

Added Christian Coolsaet, MD of Volvo Trucks UK & Ireland: “Operating a Volvo FL Electric, particularly where it can be charged with electricity from renewable sources, is a powerful step towards more sustainable city distribution. We are confident this new addition to DHL’s fleet will help to improve air quality and reduce traffic noise; and since it produces no tail-pipe exhaust emissions, it is perfect for operation within London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone."