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Southern California ports getting more ZEVs; state proposes Clean Fleet rule

4 Gen, IMC announce separate initiatives for zero-emission vehicles to replace internal combustion engine

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The annual exposition of the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA) here featured two developments that suggest the drayage industry in the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles is working toward meeting the clean fleet rules of both the state and the ports.

Those clean fleet initiative announcements came about the same time the state was finalizing its proposed Advanced Clean Fleet (ACF) rule. Its release last week opened up a comment period headed toward a public hearing on Oct. 27. The overarching goal in the ACF rule is the phasing out of internal combustion engines in California trucking by the 2040 model year.  

Overlapping state and port mandates will require the drayage industry to meet a lengthy list of requirements, many of which already are in place. A rule regarding a prohibition on registering new vehicles in the Drayage Port Registry that are anything but zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) helped lay the foundation for the announcements at IANA. That rule takes effect at the start of 2024. 

“So far we have not seen red flags,” Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said in an interview with FreightWaves. “We have been engaged with the drayage community, and we are making sure they all are aware of the new program requirements.”

Both the state of California and the port are pushing for an all-zero emission vehicle fleet by 2035. Hacegaba also said the port is looking to have freight-handling equipment within the port be ZEV by 2030. And the two announcements at the IANA meeting are part of the still-enormous hill to climb to get to that target. 

The Port of Long Beach coordinated the announcement of one of the two initiatives, involving 4 Gen Logistics.

Unlike other announcements that have mostly been a company saying it was going to start moving freight on a ZEV vehicle, 4 Gen Logistics said that not only is it going to purchase 61 ZEV trucks, it is putting in almost that many electric charging stations.

Electrify America, which operates charging stations through the country, will install 60 public charging stations in the port by the end of next year. 

“The important point feature of the 60 charging stations is that it will not only support the 4 Gen fleet but will also be available to other fleets,” Hacegaba said. Given that charging infrastructure has long been raised as a concern about the move to ZEVs, port officials see the sort of “common carrier” approach to charging as significant.

“It becomes a catalyst for other trucks,” he said. In the first few comments on the state’s ACF proposal, several individuals cited a lack of charging capacity as a major concern that would hinder the rule’s potential success.

The other significant announcement regarding ZEVs came from IMC Cos., which describes itself as the largest drayage company in the U.S. and operates under several different subsidiaries.

It announced it was adding six Volvo electric trucks to its fleet at the Port of Long Beach this year. 

Jim Gillis, the president of Pacific Drayage, an IMC subsidiary, said the company “had our eyes on battery technology for a while” before choosing Volvo as the first supplier of electric tractors. Gillis added that the company already has installed electric-based equipment at its Compton warehouse. 

From one perspective, IMC and 4 Gen are simply getting ahead of the rule that kicks in at the start of 2024 which blocks registration of anything but ZEVs.

While that rule is only about 16 months off, the ACF rule is more sweeping. Its introduction had been expected sometime before the end of the year.

It is a regulation on what fleets must do, as opposed to the in-place Advanced Clean Trucks regulation, which is aimed at truck and auto manufacturers, requiring them to supply a certain percentage of ZEV vehicles in the state by certain dates.

With the proposal that sees the end of new internal combustion engine sales into the medium- and heavy-duty truck markets by 2040, the targets are projected to mean about 510,000 ZEVs will be sold in California in 2035, 1.23 million in 2045 and 1.59 million in 2050. 

But the proposal also calls for drayage trucks, last-mile delivery and government fleets to be ZEVs by 2035. The executive summary of the proposed rule concedes that it “aggressively pushes drayage trucks to be ZE, given the suitability of their duty cycles, outsized impact on disproportionately impacted communities and the ability to maximize emissions reductions in heavily impacted communities.”

Hacegaba said initiatives like the Gen 4 program “really illustrates that we can do this much sooner” than the 2035 deadline. He said the number of ZEVs deployed in drayage at the Port of Long Beach is now 16.

To help fund the transition to ZEVs, the ports began collecting a charge of $10 per twenty-foot equivalent unit earlier this year. That will help fund grants and other mechanisms to support the purchase of ZEVs, Hacegaba said.

4 Gen initiated the contact with the port, Hacegaba said. 4 Gen expressed interest primarily in the port providing an area for charging. “We were already exploring opportunities to install charging infrastructure,” he said. “So when they came to use, it was a perfect synergy. They had a need for land, and we were already looking at ways to incentivize ZEVs, so this project quickly came to fruition.”

The other key deadline coming up at the Southern California ports is that drayage vehicles must be model year 2017 or later as of 2023. That is similar to a 2018 rule that vehicles needed to be 2014 models or later.

Mark George, IMC’s chairman, said the company will continue to buy diesel trucks next year as it brings the ZEVs into its fleet. “We need to understand the ZEVs better,” he said. But he added that by 2028, with the replacement cycles, “we will not be deploying any more diesel trucks.”

More articles by John Kingston

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The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes IMC Cos. (No. 60).

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.