Freight News, Sea, Logistics

Port of Oakland first: battery-powered truck enters the fleet

[ March 1, 2018   //   ]

A battery-powered truck has entered the Port of Oakland fleet for the first time, testing the feasibility of zero-emission freight hauling. The Port said today that GSC Logistics, a major California trucking operator, introduced the 10-ton rig earlier this month. It’s the only electric truck alongside more than 6,000 diesel-powered vehicles registered at the Port.

The $250,000 big rig represents the latest effort to minimize the environmental impact of containerized trade in Oakland. If it proves effective, Port officials expect motor carriers to acquire additional battery-powered trucks for hauling cargo containers. The Port has indicated its intention to explore technology that could make diesel-powered cargo handling obsolete.

“We’ll be following this experiment closely,” said Richard Sinkoff, the Port’s Director of Environmental Programs and Planning. “If battery-powered vehicles can do the job efficiently and affordably, they can help change the way we do business.”

The Port said it has reduced diesel emissions 98 percent in the past decade through clean truck programs. It’s promising to update its Maritime Air Quality Improvement Plan this summer with an emphasis on zero-emissions technology. The challenge: battery-powered equipment designed for container handling isn’t readily available. That’s why a test of electric big rigs is attracting so much attention.

GSC Logistics said that its demonstration truck would be used on short-hauls during a three-year trial. GSC is using the rig to shuttle cargo containers between its depot and Oakland marine terminals. The company explained that the vehicle’s 100-mile battery range is unsuitable for long-haul drayage.  

“We’re making four-to-five runs a day within the Port’s perimeter and so far, the truck’s performing well,” said GSC Logistics CEO Scott Taylor. “Our next step will be to get it out on the road.”

GSC Logistics moves the equivalent of 120,000 20-foot cargo containers annually through Oakland. The company said it would consider purchasing up to three additional electric trucks if its test proves successful.