By initiating a global championship for electric vehicles it raised the question how sustainable it really would be. One of these topics addresses transportation. How on earth can a racing series be called ‘green’ if you are having events in four continents? DHL is official founding and logistics partner of the FIA Formula E Championship and found solutions to minimise the carbon footprint. ElectricAutosport.com was one of the few media given a look behind the scenes.
All ten Formula E teams are located at the British Donington Park circuit. That is convenient in terms of transportation as everything can be shipped together instead of having teams in different parts of the world. Another benefit is that the workshops are close to East Midlands Airport where DHL has a 174,000 sqm cargo hub operational. From there, the cars and equipment could fly to destinations around the world. But that would not be very sustainable.
At the time Rio de Janeiro and Rome had indicated that they would like to have race, the logistical challenge began. Many other cities expressed their interest, but how can you travel around the world as sustainable as possible? DHL provided a solution to a possible logistical nightmare. “We were very happy that DHL came on board in such an early stage of our preparation,” says Jaume Sallares, Chief Marketing Officer of Formula E during an exclusive media event ElectricAutosport.com was invited for. Their partner does not just only provide cargo shipping. “We sat down with DHL to improve efficiency like the order of the races and the type of transport we would be using. They gave us tangible advice and together we drafted the calendar.”
DHL asked the organisers not to fly back after every event and the calendar was divided into clusters. It starts in Asia in September, before they visit South America in the end of the year. North America follows early next year before the racing series finishes with events in Europe in spring and summer. “We’re transporting everything to Beijing by road and rail and from Asia we will travel to the America’s by ocean. We will emit fewer emissions by using different types of transportation,” says Alistair Gates, Director of the DHL GoGreen programme. “Also, a special way of dissembling the cars to fit into the containers more efficiently does reduce the amount of our carbon footprint.”
DHL explained to be able to move all the cargo from one place to another in 48 hours, something that is being practised in Formula 1 today. The calendar challenge was tackled together with Formula E. But what about the lithium-ion batteries in the cars? “The lithium-ion batteries are considered as dangerous,” says Pierluigi Ferrari, DHL’s Motorsport Deputy Managing Director. DHL has helped with all the paperwork and made sure that the battery packaging are conforming international UN3480 regulations. “Like the KERS system in Formula 1, batteries are creating problems. For example it is forbidden to transport these by passenger aircraft and even in cargo you really have to help the company to prepare the transportation of ‘dangerous goods’. Together with Williams, the battery supplier, and Formula E we have managed to solve all our problems in order to ship everything around the world.”
Why DHL commits to Formula E
With approximately 294 million shipments and 4,147,000 tones of airfreight, DHL Express is a big player in transportation. The logistics sector is one of the largest polluters globally and that is one of the reasons DHL has embraced the sustainability topic. They initiated a ‘GoGreen’ programme with the objective to improve the carbon efficiency of their operations and subcontractors by 30% from 2007 to 2020.
Committing to Formula E goes further than transportation of the cars and helping the organisers to draft the calendar. “We are using Formula E for testing purposes of additional technologies for logistics in a real environment,” says Manuela Wilbaut, who is responsible for DHL’s Automotive Sustainability Programmes. “Additionally as a business, we are introducing green products like reusable packaging and we are trying to optimise our supply chain. New developments and best practises will be rolled out throughout the network. That is also what we expect with our experience in Formula E.” In addition, DHL increased its fleet of climate-friendly vehicles to 11,500 this year.
One of the key motivators to step into Formula E is the chance to promote its green operations, to push its education programmes and providing a platform for building staff and customer relationships. As a motorsport environment requires, DHL shipment is expected to be fast too. And thanks to its global operations, no challenge seems large enough to tackle possible logistical nightmares.
This article was made possible by DHL but is independently written by ElectricAutosport.com.