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EV roundup: LA mayor seeks proposals on zero-emission drayage technology

Plus: California air quality chief on short list to helm Biden EPA; 125 zero-emission models in production

October was a busy month for OEMs pushing electric trucks toward commercialization: Volvo landed $21 million to deploy 70 Class 8 electric trucks; Kenworth announced it would launch its first-ever Class 8 battery-electric truck in the U.S. and Canada in 2021; and Einride’s driverless, cabless electric trucks hit the mass market.

Also in October: a raft of new programs, studies and policy proposals aimed at accelerating the transition and shoring up zero-emission infrastructure. Here’s a roundup of some of the latest electric charging and governance news:

LA Mayor issues RFI for zero-emission drayage technology

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a request for information (RFI) soliciting proposals to expand the use of zero-emission technology at the Port of Los Angeles. 

The RFI will help advance the mayor’s goal to transition all drayage trucks serving the San Pedro Bay port complex to zero emission by 2035, the solicitation states. 

Specifically, submissions are supposed to address the following areas: approaches to maximize the use of public and private funding sources; new asset management structures that can accommodate the San Pedro Bay Ports’ scale; charging and fueling infrastructure; maintenance and procurement methods; and public-private partnership models to achieve the zero-emission transition.

”Conversion of the Port drayage fleet to zero-emission technology involves tremendous financial investment,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka in a press statement, “and will take the collaboration and commitment of many stakeholders — both public and private.”

Retiring chief of California Air Resources Board (CARB) on short list of candidates to helm the EPA under a Biden administration

Mary Nichols, the retiring head of the California Air Resources Board, is on the short list of candidates to helm the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should Joe Biden win the presidential election, Bloomberg reported

Arguably the most powerful environmental regulator in the country, CARB under Nichols’ watch has taken the lead on transitioning diesel-powered heavy-duty trucks to zero-emissions vehicles. Notably, the agency approved the landmark Advanced Clean Truck rule in June and is now working on rulemaking to address California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ban on gas-powered vehicles.

The EPA under the Trump administration has clashed repeatedly with CARB over air quality regulations. As reported by GreenBiz, during an interview at the VERGE 20 conference last week, Nichols responded as follows to a question about the Biden offer:

“I am one of the people who worked at the EPA once upon a time who has been shocked and distressed by the treatment they have received over the last four years. In particular, it’s a much smaller, a much weaker agency than it was supposed to have been. And if the president wants my help, in whatever capacity, to help turn that around, I’m going to say yes.” 

Study tallies 125 heavy-duty models in production

Over the past five years, sales of zero-emission commercial vehicles have shot up by nearly a factor of 10, according to “Race to zero: How manufacturers are positioned for zero-emission commercial trucks and buses in North America,” a study released by The International Council on Clean Transportation, Propulsion Quebec and the Environmental Defense Fund. 

The report identifies at least 125 zero-emission truck and bus models that are in production, development or demonstration as of July 2020 — both by original equipment manufacturers and startup companies.

There are models for each of the major segments of the heavy-duty vehicle market, including transit and school buses, delivery vans, box trucks and combination trucks. According to the report, major truck and bus manufacturer is developing at least one all-electric vehicle model or is part of an industry collaboration to bring zero-emission vehicles to market.

Volvo helps tweak California utility rules, exempting medium- and heavy-duty charging stations

Speaking of collaborations — an industry consortium including Volvo LIGHTS CALSTART, Trillium and Greenlots has helped modify California utility rules such that businesses now have the ability to sell electricity as a motor fuel at public charging stations for medium- and heavy-duty electric vehicles.

The problem: Until now, California utilities were guided by a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) decision that exempted light-duty vehicle charging station providers from being regulated as a utility but did not explicitly exempt medium- and heavy-duty charging station providers.

After the coalition filed a motion in July seeking to clarify CPUC’s position, the agency issued a decision extending that exemption to medium- and heavy-duty charging station providers.

Immediate impact: Trillium is moving forward with one of the first public fast-charging, heavy-duty truck stations located on the border of Placentia and Anaheim, California. It is slated to open in 2021.

Electrify America launches business unit

Electrify America, an EV fast-charging network, has launched Electrify Commercial, a new business unit designed to let private entities develop their own charging stations. Previously Electrify America focused on developing their own network of public charging stations.

The new unit will help  business-to-business customers — including utility companies, fleet operators, automotive manufacturers, real estate developers, property owners, retailers and government entities — roll out charging stations for their own staff or customers. 

Related story:

What happens in California doesn’t stay in California

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.