The surge in demand for courier services since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has seen DPD add an extra order of 100 Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor units to its original 2020 requirement of 50 units.
The company said that all will be 4×2 variants with Active Drive Assist technology. DPD has been running since late last year 25 new-generation Actros vehicles featuring the first Level 2 autonomous driving system to enter series production.
Even before lockdown restrictions were announced in March, the UK public’s increasing reliance on online shopping had resulted in soaring demand for DPD’s services, a trend it says shows no sign of slowing, as established online retail customers experience a sales boom and new customers develop their own online propositions.
DPD has responded to the ‘new normal’ by announcing its intention to invest £200m (US$252m) this year on expanding its next-day parcel capacity, with half of this sum going toward new vehicles. The company has not been able to easily rent the low-height tractor units it needs, so over recent years it has kept trucks in storage then pressed them into service ahead of its peak period, the eight-week run-up to Christmas. That has not been possible this year, though, as the surge in demand has meant it has every asset working flat out.
DPD explained it operates a ‘line haul’ fleet of approximately 1,150 tractor units, which pull double- and single-deck semi-trailers between four hubs in the West Midlands – a fifth is scheduled to open in Hinckley before the end of the year – as well as its network of depots and customer locations.