DHL Express is testing out a new all-electric vehicle in Toulouse, southern France, delivering parcels in the city centre.
The company said it is trialling a light vehicle made by local manufacturer Helem, called the Colibus L7C2.
It is specially designed for short journeys in urban areas, with a range on a single charge of 80km and a top speed of 70 km/h (43 mph).
The vehicle has a payload of 750 kg, and a rear volume capacity of six cubic metres, although this will be extended with goods also being carried within the cab of the vehicle.
DHL Express said the experience from its Toulouse trial would help the company develop its urban environmental policy for the city, where conventional vehicles are now banned from the city centre except for delivery vehicles between 9:30 and 11:30.
DHL has already been making use of more bicycle and three-wheelers to get round the ban, but said the silent Colibus could improve the efficiency of deliveries, using a single vehicle for all deliveries.
Testing will see the Colibus engaged in full a 40-km round to assess how it copes with the local conditions.
Florence Noblot, chief executive of DHL Express International, said: “Our group has established, through its GoGreen programme, a goal of reducing its carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2020, compared to 2007. To achieve this, we are studying permanent alternatives to combustion engines to transport our packages while reducing the carbon footprint of our business.”
DHL Express introduced scooters to improve its urban deliveries in nine French cities last year, delivering nearly 103,000 parcels in Bordeaux, La Rochelle, Lyon, Montpellier, Nice, Orleans, Rennes, Toulouse and Strasburg last year.
The vehicles have saved more than 6,500 litres of fuel and nearly 16,500 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions so far, DHL said.