So busy has DPD UK been since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic that shortly after confirming its 2020 requirement for 50 new Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor units the parcels delivery leader returned with an order for 100 more.

All will be 4×2 variants with ground-breaking Active Drive Assist technology. A committed innovator, DPD has been running 25 new-generation Actros featuring the first level 2 autonomous driving system to enter series production, since late last year.

Even before lockdown restrictions were announced in March, the public’s increasing reliance on internet shopping had resulted in soaring demand for DPD’s seven day a week, nationwide next-day delivery service. This trend 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 £200 million this year on expanding its next-day parcel capacity. Half of this sum is going towards new vehicles, with £60 million being spent on 15 new regional depots – 10 more than originally planned – and the remainder on technology. DPD is also creating 6,000 new jobs, 3,500 of them for HGV and delivery drivers.

Since DPD cannot easily rent the low-height tractor units it needs, 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 was not possible this year, though, as the surge in demand has meant every asset is working flat out.

DPD 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. All but a handful of these trucks are by Mercedes-Benz.

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