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DHL Express's electric cargo plane. Image: Courtesy of DHL Express

Logistics provider DHL Express is adding electric cargo planes to its fleet, becoming the first customer for Eviation, a Seattle-based electric aviation company.

Why it matters: As delivery on demand explodes, shipping and logistics providers like DHL are under pressure to make every mode of their operations more sustainable — aircraft, trucks, last-mile delivery vans, and even their buildings.

  • DHL has committed 7 billion euros ($8.3 billion at today's rate) by 2030 for steps to reduce its CO2 emissions, on its way to a zero emissions target by 2050.

Driving the news: DHL said today it has ordered 12 fully electric Alice cargo planes from Eviation, and expects to take delivery in 2024.

Details: Alice, which can be configured for cargo or passengers, requires 30 minutes or less to charge per flight hour and has a maximum range of about 500 miles.

  • It can be flown by a single pilot and carry up to 2,600 pounds, and can operate in environments where piston and turbine planes are currently used.
  • As with electric automobiles, fewer moving parts means reduced maintenance costs and increased reliability, according to Eviation.
  • Its operating software constantly monitors flight performance to ensure optimal efficiency. A first flight is scheduled for later this year.

What they're saying: “From day one, we set an audacious goal to transform the aviation industry and create a new era with electric aircraft,” says Eviation CEO Omer Bar-Yohay.

  • “Partnering with companies like DHL who are the leaders in sustainable cargo transportation is a testament that the electric era is upon us. This announcement is a significant milestone on our quest to transform the future of flight across the globe.” 

What to watch: DHL plans to build several zero emission Alice feeder networks in the U.S., targeting the West Coast and Southeast U.S.

Go deeper

Why electric robotaxis might not save the planet

People will need to share electric robotaxis to avoid increased emissions, a study found. Photo: Cruise

Electric, self-driving taxis might not be the answer to our climate problems that many people think, a new study finds.

Why it matters: Transportation is the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, which is one reason that the Biden administration is pushing for a rapid shift to electrification.

  • But instead of reducing energy consumption and emissions that contribute to climate change, widespread deployment of electric robotaxis could exacerbate those problems, the joint Harvard-MIT study found.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.