Emissions-Free, 30-ton Container Hauler Will Cut Noise and Air Pollution at the Port

SAN PEDRO, Calif. – May 16, 2008 – Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa today joined officials from the Port of Los Angeles and South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) for the introduction of the world’s most powerful electric truck.  Soon, the local manufacturer of this emissions-free truck will open an assembly plant in the Harbor City area of Los Angeles, with 47 “green collar” employees and the potential to bring more jobs and millions in business and tax revenue to the City of Los Angeles.

Built as a demonstration project co-funded by the Port and SCAQMD, and designed specifically for short-haul or “drayage” operations, this electric tractor was the result of nearly a year of development and testing.  The heavy-duty electric short-haul drayage truck -- the first of its kind at any port worldwide -- can pull a 60,000-pound cargo container at a top speed of 40 mph, and has a range between 30 to 60 miles per battery charge.  The battery charger can charge up to four electric trucks simultaneously in four hours and can also provide up to 60 percent of the charge in one hour to meet peak demands during daily operations.  To see video of the truck, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0f1AlrG8gVU

Energy and Emissions Savings
On a kilowatt hour of energy cost-basis, this electric truck costs roughly 20 cents a mile to operate.  On a per-mile cost-basis, a common diesel truck could cost anywhere from four to nine times as much, depending on fluctuating fuel costs and actual duty-cycle activity (100 percent duty cycle equals zero percent truck idling).

Future widespread application of a fleet of electric trucks would be especially useful at the Port of Los Angeles because, on an annual basis, more than two million truck drayage trips take place between the port terminals and rail and warehouse facilities within five to ten miles of San Pedro Bay.

An overall calculation of net emissions reductions still needs to be performed in order to take into account the emissions created in the generation of electric power used to charge the truck’s batteries.  However, based on the average emissions generated by the existing fleet of drayage trucks that serve the San Pedro Bay ports, Port of Los Angeles staff estimated the average pollution discharge generated by the estimated 1.2 million truck trips that occurred in 2006 between the ports and a local near-dock railyard (the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility or ICTF).  If those 1.2 million truck trips were to be made with zero emission electric trucks, an estimated 35,605.6 tons of tailpipe emissions would be eliminated, including: 21.8 tons per year of Diesel Particulate Matter (DPM), 427.7 tons per year of localized Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions, 168.5 tons per year of Carbon (CO), and 34,987.6 tons per year of Carbon Dioxide (CO2). 
Click here for a fact sheet on the Port’s electric truck.

The San Pedro Bay Ports Clean Air Action Plan approved by the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor commissions in November 2006 is targeting an 80-percent reduction in port related truck pollution by replacing the aging fleet of 16,000 trucks that serve the ports with new LNG and clean diesel rigs that meet 2007 Federal emissions standards.  An over-the-road electric drayage truck could help meet this goal by providing a zero tailpipe emissions-alternative to combustion-powered vehicles.

“Smart, environmentally-friendly growth at the Port is a priority,” said Mayor Villaraigosa. “We are telling the people of our Port communities that the days of big, belching black smoke are numbered.  We are investing in technology that will clean our Port, clear our skies, and grow green jobs."

“Electric trucks can provide the backbone we need for a substantially cleaner drayage fleet serving our ports in the years to come,” said Los Angeles Harbor Commission President, S. David Freeman.  “We could eliminate a lot of truck pollution in and around the port with a fleet of these workhorses.”

As a partial consideration of the Port providing the first sizeable production order with Balqon Corporation, the truck manufacturer, Balqon will provide a royalty payment to the Port for each vehicle it sells or leases worldwide.

“Our collaborative efforts with Balqon not only offer enormous potential for the future deployment of all-electric short-haul drayage trucks at our port and other ports worldwide, but it could also provide a royalty funding stream that we can use to re-invest into the development of other zero-emissions goods movement applications,” said Port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz, Ph.D.

“The operating cost of the electric truck is 15 percent of the current fossil fuel powered vehicles used in similar application,” said Balwinder Samra, CEO of Balqon Corporation.  “Due to high idling time that drayage trucks typically endure, we think the annual savings for truck operators could be $35,000 or more.”

An initiative of the Port’s Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP), the development and demonstration of the electric truck by Santa Ana-based Balqon Corporation was funded jointly by the Port and SCAQMD at a total cost of $527,000.  Balqon, which has extensive experience in the development of heavy-duty electric trucks and buses, plans to begin manufacturing the electric trucks for the Port and other customers in the Harbor area.  Their goal, as discussed by Commission and Senior Port officials, is to build a “green collar” job base in the Harbor District and generate millions of dollars in revenues for the local community.

The initial demonstration unit was delivered to the Port in January for performance testing of speed, range, payload and charging capabilities.  It was tested with a fully loaded container weighing 68,000 lbs.  There were no operational failures and the truck’s performance exceeded expectations in many aspects.

In addition to the next phase of on-road testing, the truck will  be tested at a Port of Los Angeles cargo container terminal as a zero emissions alternative to fossil fuel-powered yard tractors, or “hostlers.”  Fleets of hundreds of hostlers -- which are mostly diesel vehicles and a small number of Liquefied Natural Gas test units -- move thousands of containers a day between the Port’s docks and terminal backland.  They could eventually be replaced by electric vehicles.

Last month, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the production of 20 electric hostlers following the successful completion of the cargo terminal tests.  The 20 hostlers, expected to cost $189,950 each, will be deployed in the Port as part of a “green terminal” program.
The green terminal program will also include the production of five on-road electric trucks at a cost of $208,500 each.  Balqon will work with the Port and Department of Transportation to obtain the appropriate certification for on-road use.In total, the Port is investing more than $5.6 million to demonstrate the viability of electric drayage trucks.

The Port of Los Angeles, also known as “America’s Port,” has a strong commitment to developing innovative strategic and sustainable operations that benefit the economy and the quality of life for the region and the nation it serves. A recipient of numerous environmental awards, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 2007 Clean Air Excellence Award, the Port of Los Angeles is committed to innovating cleaner, greener ways of doing business. As the leading seaport in North America in terms of shipping container volume and cargo value, the Port generates 919,000 regional jobs and $39.1 billion in annual wages and tax revenues. A proprietary department of the City of Los Angeles, the Port is self-supporting and does not receive taxpayer dollars. The Port of Los Angeles - A cleaner port. A brighter future.