Diesel Coffin Nails – EVs to Takeover in SoCal Freight Yards

The State of California is giving $9 million to San Bernardino Associated Governments, aka SANBAG, to buy 27 electric trucks to replace diesel-powered, heavy-duty tractors used in rail yards and large-scale freight distribution centers. During the two-year duration of what’s called a demonstration project, the electric trucks should provide overall reductions in emissions of 3,500 tons of carbon dioxide, 3,250 pounds of nitrogen oxide and 170 pounds of diesel soot (PM10).

There are also social aspects to the deal since the poorer communities – in this case within the cities of San Bernardino, Commerce and Fontana – are as critics increasingly point out the disproportionate  recipients of industrial health abuses. Unfortunately, in the job poor, middle-classed threatened economy,  the supplier of the EVs is BYD – a Chinese company, one that is the world’s largest makers of  EVs.

The stated policy goal is to develop zero-emission vehicles that could/would replace existing diesel trucks – thereby accelerating the commercialization of heavy-duty advanced, zero-emission technologies in California. California, by far the largest vehicle market in the U.S., has been at the forefront of battling pollution, and its policies are – eventually – adopted by other states.

The funds come from the California Climate Investments (CCI) program, which is trying to reduce greenhouse gases while also reducing petroleum usage and improving air quality in residential communities.

“Cleaner trucks mean cleaner air for all Californians, but especially for those who live in neighborhoods next to these freight transfer facilities,” said California Air Resources Board (CARB) Chair Mary D. Nichols

The two types of trucks funded by the grant are common at major freight locations in the U.S. CARB says that this model for truck electrification could be used at any facility. The project will use 23 battery-electric 80,000-pound (GVWR) Class 8 yard trucks – yard goats – that are used to move heavy freight containers short distances within freight yards, warehouses, distribution centers and port terminals. The project – it is hoped –  will also demonstrate that four 16,100-pound (GVWR) Class 5 medium-duty service trucks could be practical as well.

BNSF Railway will operate the trucks at two of its intermodal rail yards in the cities of San Bernardino and Commerce. Daylight Transport will also operate the trucks at its new truck freight transfer facility in Fontana.

The grant is part of a larger statewide investment in low-carbon transportation projects that are needed to meet California’s – admittedly ambitious –  goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and reduce petroleum dependency by accelerating the development and placement of advanced vehicle technologies.

The project also supports the Governor’s Executive Order (B-32-15) to “upgrade freight vehicles and infrastructure” utilizing “technologies, energy sources, and fuels that enable greater transportation efficiency while reducing community and environmental impacts.” The draft California Sustainable Freight Action Plan, required under the Executive Order, was made public last month.

The fully electric trucks will be designed and manufactured by the Chinese company BYD in Lancaster, California.

“BYD is proud to collaborate on this project and showcase our best-in-market electric battery technology,” said Stella Li, president of BYD Motors. “By deploying these trucks in 24/7 operations, this project will prove that truck electrification can be adopted at any major freight location and scaled for any facility and business need in the U.S.”

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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