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EV charging for the U.S. freight trucking market is starting to scale

One of the first large-scale EV charging stations for freight trucks is opening near the major ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, as the trucking industry takes small but significant steps toward building the infrastructure needed for a long-term transition to EV trucking and net-zero shipping.

Built by Sweden-based freight mobility company Einride and EV charging infrastructure company Voltera, the Lynwood Smartcharger Station along Interstate 710 has 65 chargers and the capacity to charge 200 vehicles per day, initially for routes run by global shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk, which is also a venture investor in Einride, which was named to the 2023 CNBC Disruptor 50 list.

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handle 29% of all maritime cargo container traffic entering the United States.

“The launch of Einride’s first Smartcharger station in the U.S. marks a momentous stride in establishing digital, electric freight as an important enabler to a more resilient U.S. freight system,” stated Robert Falck, CEO and creator of Einride.

Einride, founded in 2016, operates one of the largest fleets of heavy-duty electric trucks for significant corporations, like Pepsi.

Voltera, which develops, owns, and runs EV infrastructure, stated that the facility was permitted, built, electrified, and operating in under 18 months. “In the world of charging infrastructure, that’s pretty remarkable,” said CEO Matt Horton in a statement.

Einride intends to establish numerous EV charging stations for freight trucking on the West and East coasts, however California is currently the only state with any large-scale EV freight charging stations. In addition to the new Lynwood station, logistics business NFI announced in February a freight EV charging station capable of charging up to 50 trucks, including Volvos, in conjunction with Electrify America and Southern California Edison.

The NFI EV charging station for port drayage trucks is located in the company’s warehouse site in Ontario, California, which is also strategically located to serve the major southern California ports.

Due to the limited range of EV truck batteries, trucking businesses and EV partners are focused on drayage transportation, which involves moving goods over short distances for usage at ports and intermodal logistics facilities.

Erik Neandross, CEO of transportation consultant GNA, which works with clients on low-carbon and zero-emissions freight, said servicing 50 trucks or more is a different level of magnitude than what has been done so far in the freight market, but he added that EV charging at scale for trucks is still in its early stages of development. “We’re quite early. We’re around halfway through the first inning. “California truly is the epicenter of activity on this scale and magnitude,” he stated.

California’s government has been aggressive in offering grants and incentives to build EV infrastructure, and its utilities have approved $750 million in development, making a significant difference in a market where there are still few EV trucks on the road or charging stations in operation, making it difficult to demonstrate cost competitiveness against diesel fuel.

Government and utility spending, combined with regulations to achieve net zero emissions by 2040 — and the need for major shippers such as consumer products companies and big-box retailers, from Pepsi to Walmart, to meet their own carbon targets — create an environment in which more investment in the US freight market will take place.

The California Air Resources Board is ordering truck manufacturers to begin phasing in available heavy-duty EV technology this year, with the goal of having fully zero-emission short-haul drayage fleets by 2035. According to the Department of Energy, medium and heavy trucks account for only approximately 4% of all vehicles in the United States, yet they consume more than 25% of total highway gasoline and contribute almost 30% of highway carbon emissions.

Additional EV charging initiatives are planned for ports in New York, New Jersey, and the Pacific Northwest.

“Now is the time to test it before the next few fleet buying cycles,” he said. “There’s nothing like laying the groundwork to go out and see and learn. That’s where we are now.

The entire supply chain, from product manufacturing to shipping a container from Shanghai to Chicago, will necessitate a complex net zero equation, with shippers and freight companies focusing on everything from plant energy use to sourcing materials, packaging, and logistics. “To get to net zero, you have to do everything,” Neandross explained. “Many of the companies we work with have been hard at work on non-transportation issues. Take Pepsi; they’ve done everything they can to install LED lights, purchase renewable energy, and maximize manufacturing efficiency. Now it’s time to focus on trucks and logistics. It’s difficult, but it must be done.”

This week, the Environmental Protection Agency issued new emissions mandates for cars and pickups, and the EPA is expected to issue new emissions requirements for medium and heavy-duty trucks soon, making alternatives to diesel engines more competitive, including compressed natural gas-powered trucks and zero-emission electric vehicles.



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