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Amazon, CBRE among new backers of California drayage electrification venture

Jan. 18, 2023
The two-year-old startup Forum Mobility last month took its first customer collaboration live in Long Beach with the support of Amazon, real estate giant CBRE, and others.

The investment arm of real estate giant CBRE and a climate-technology fund run by Amazon are among the new backers of a California startup developing charging networks and other services for zero-emission drayage.

The leaders of 2-year-old Forum Mobility announced Jan. 17 that they have raised $15 million from an investor group led by CBRE Investment Management and also including previous investors Obvious Ventures, electric utility Edison International, Overture, and Homecoming Capital, as well as new backers CBRE, Elemental Excelerator, and Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund. CBRE Investment Management and Homecoming Capital also are funding a joint venture with Forum that has $400 million in capital available to it. Amazon operated the seventh largest fleet in the U.S. in 2022, according to the FleetOwner 500: Top Private Fleets.

See also: New emissions rules take effect in California

The goal for that funding: To rapidly build out a charging network for heavy-duty trucks used in California’s port complexes and to help fleet operators and drivers electrify their operations. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) is considering requiring all of the roughly 30,000 California drayage trucks—most of them owned by small fleets—to be zero-emission by 2035, a move the California Energy Commission says would require the installation of more than 150,000 chargers by the end of this decade.

"Electric trucks work. But to deploy them at scale, we need to build a tremendous amount of charging infrastructure,” Pat Arnold of Homecoming Capital said in a statement. “The Forum Mobility team has construction in their DNA—and is perfectly suited to deploy the infrastructure required to enable drayage truck electrification.”

Oakland-based Forum Mobility says it can provide electric trucks plus charging services at a cost comparable to diesel. The venture is led by CEO Matt LeDucq, who has in the past held senior business development and sales roles at NextEra Energy Resources and Suntech and who also leads construction management company Forum Energy Partners. He and his team last month cut the ribbon on their first deployment, a five-truck deal with Hight Logistics in Long Beach, California.

See also: As emissions requirements sunset, California wants zero-emissions drayage by 2035

CBRE Investment Management’s commitment to Forum is the firm’s third in four years in the sustainable transportation space.

“We continue to execute on our strategy of investing in infrastructure assets that we believe will thrive in the new electric and digital economies,” said Robert Shaw, managing director of private infrastructure. “We are excited to form this strategic partnership with Forum Mobility and leverage the broader CBRE platform to supercharge the transition to sustainable, zero-emission logistics solutions."

California officials also are investing in the infrastructure needed to support their zero-emission vehicle goals and mandates. Late last year, CARB allotted $1.7 billion to programs promoting ZEVs, while the state energy commission approved $690 million for medium- and heavy-duty ZEV infrastructure.

About the Author

Geert De Lombaerde | Senior Editor

A native of Belgium, Geert De Lombaerde has more than two decades of business journalism experience and writes about markets and economic trends for Endeavor Business Media publications FleetOwner, Healthcare InnovationIndustryWeek, Oil & Gas Journal and T&D World. With a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, he began his reporting career at the Business Courier in Cincinnati and later was managing editor and editor of the Nashville Business Journal. Most recently, he oversaw the online and print products of the Nashville Post and reported primarily on Middle Tennessee’s finance sector as well as many of its publicly traded companies.

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