Environmental Protection

L.A. to Reap Green Jobs with Electric Truck

The Port of Los Angeles and South Coast Air Quality Management District have co-funded a demonstration of the world's most powerful electric truck. Balqon Corp., the local manufacturer of the 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.

Designed for short-haul or "drayage" operations, the tractor is the result of nearly a year of development and testing. The 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.

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 2 million truck drayage trips take place between the port terminals and rail and warehouse facilities within five to ten miles of San Pedro Bay.

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 with new liquefied natural gas and clean diesel rigs that meet 2007 federal emissions standards.

As a partial consideration of the Port providing the first sizeable production order with Balqon Corp., the truck manufacturer 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, chief executive officer of Balqon Corp. "Due to high idling time that drayage trucks typically endure, we think the annual savings for truck operators could be $35,000 or more."

The development and demonstration of the electric truck by Santa Ana-based Balqon Corp. cost $527,000.

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