[Updated October 27] Duvenbeck has started using a battery-powered, low-deck truck for shipments of automotive parts between Germany and Belgium. The European logistics provider is moving parts including windshields, vehicle axles, engine components and spare parts for an unnamed carmaker.

Low-deck trucks haul trailers with an interior loading height of 3 metres thanks to the low chassis height. According to Duvenbeck, the megatrailers are particularly efficient and suitable for moving automotive goods because they enable the space to be fully used in the best possible way. During transport, the shipments are stored in racks, which, because of their size, are best kept in a mega-trailer.

Volvo low deck FM_Duvenbeck

The low-deck tractor unit is based on Volvo Trucks’ Mid Cab model in the FM range. It has been electrified by the Volvo subsidiary, Designwerk Technologies, which has previously worked with logistics firm Galliker Transport and trailer manufacturer Kässbohrer. The vehicle is being supplied to Duvenbeck by Greiwing Truck & Trailer on a long-term rental basis.

Duvenbeck is using the vehicle for shuttle services for selected automotive customers, including on routes between Herne in Germany and Ghent in Belgium. The company said that when using the combination of low-deck e-trucks and mega-trailers, Duvenbeck achieves a good utilisation rate for the return trips and maintains ”highly productive round trips”.

It is the first low-deck tractor unit that the logistics provider has used for long-distance services in Germany and, being battery electric, the truck is cutting emissions when delivering the automotive goods over that distance. 

“The new low-deck electric truck has already demonstrated its suitability for long-distance services during the last few weeks,” said Robert Frehen, chief of staff at Duvenbeck. “If the battery is charged to a level of 340 kilowatt hours (kWh), the vehicle is able to travel up to 275km – even when fully loaded. When used in conjunction with the suitable charging infrastructure, this electric truck is making a market-ready and long-term contribution to reducing environmentally damaging emissions in our customers’ transport networks.”

Bernd Reining, fleet manager at Duvenbeck added: “We’re taking another step towards electrifying our fleet by using the battery-powered electric tractor unit. In our role as a logistics partner for the automobile industry, we’ll support our customers’ transformation process towards e-mobility by providing even more electrical and eco-friendly transport services for goods in future.”

Duvenbeck currently has a truck fleet numbering around 1,500 and it said it was looking to gradually increase the percentage of those that are battery electric, something it said was an integral part of its fleet programme.

In the spring, the company signed a letter of intent with MAN Truck & Bus for the operation of 120 MAN e-trucks by 2026, making Duvenbeck one of the first transport companies to receive the new MAN electric truck from 2024.

”Among other things, these are ultra semi-trailer tractors with a low fifth-wheel height, which allows an interior height of three meters in the trailer. These volume semi-trailers are ideally suited for use in automotive logistics,” a spokesperson told Automotive Logistics.

The move by Duvenbeck to use cleaner forms of transport for shipments is the latest in a line of recent trials by logistics providers and vehicle makers. For example, Mercedes-Benz Trucks has a stated goal of making all delivery traffic to its largest truck plant in Wörth am Rhein 100% electric by the end of 2026.

Read more about the efforts being made to cut emissions across the transport modes

Steering toward more sustainable European automotive logistics was also a focus of discussions at this year’s conference held by the Association of European Vehicle Logistics