Meritor Inc. will make electric drivetrain systems for 38 terminal tractors that move goods around the ports of Long Beach and Oakland, Calif., the company said Wednesday at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo.
The terminal trucks are an example of how companies are developing electric vehicles designed to replace polluting diesel-fueled equipment at West Coast ports.
Several companies are testing quiet medium- and heavy-duty battery and fuel cell electric drayage trucks to haul freight from ports to inland distribution centers. The trucks’ lack of emissions helps improve poor air quality in the communities through which they regularly travel.
The $17.1 million Meritor contract was funded by a California Air Resources Board grant through California Climate Investments, which supports reduced greenhouse gas emissions from the sale of carbon credits.
“This is one of the largest contracts ever awarded for battery electric terminal tractors,” said T.J. Reed, Meritor vice president of front drivetrain and electrification.
The heavy-duty terminal tractors, which take containers from ships to waiting drayage trucks, come with TransPower Inc.-designed drive, powertrain controls, accessory and energy-storage subsystems. They are mated with Meritor axles and brakes. The tractors are designed to operate on two eight-hour shifts a day and haul up to 130,000 pounds of cargo with nighttime recharging.
Meritor has made four strategic investments in TransPower, but it has not disclosed how much. They are working together on a medium-duty electric chassis for Peterbilt Motors Co. displayed at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. Peterbilt is a unit of Paccar Inc.
Meritor and TransPower also have electrification projects from various manufacturers for 100 vehicles by 2020. Those include the terminal tractors.
They recently concluded two projects under a $6 million grant awarded in 2015 by the California Energy Commission to test electric-powered yard tractors at the Port of San Diego and other locations around the state.
TransPower has a backlog of about 140 yard tractors and trucks to convert to electric drive, according to Michael Simon, TransPower chief executive.
“Zero-emission technologies have got to grow throughout the United States and across the world,” said Chris Cannon, chief sustainability officer for the Port of Los Angeles. “It’s only when they are manufactured in large numbers (that) you get the economies of scale.”