Schneider National used a splashy ribbon-cutting at its South El Monte Intermodal Operations Center on June 7 to mark the completion of a large-scale electric-vehicle charging depot that the company says will support nearly 100 Freightliner eCascadia electric Class 8s by the end of the year. The company claims its fleet of heavy EVs will be one the world's largest.
The multimodal provider of transportation, intermodal, and logistics services (No. 7 on the FleetOwner 500: Top For-Hire Fleets of 2023) unveiled the depot as part of its partnership in California's Joint Electric Truck Scaling Initiative (JETSI) that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Of the 92 eCascadias that Schneider will operate, half were funded through JETSI, the first battery-electric truck project jointly funded by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the California Energy Commission, which together awarded the project $27 million. Additional funding was provided by South Coast Air Quality Management District, Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Review Committee, the Port of Los Angeles, and local utility Southern California Edison. The company so far has accepted delivery of about a third of this expected fleet.
The charging site features 16 350-kilowatt dual-corded dispensers allowing Schneider to charge 32 trucks simultaneously. It opened about a month after CARB approved its Advanced Clean Fleets rule on April 28, requiring commercial fleets to move more rapidly to zero-emission trucks.
"Schneider decided to lead the way by building our own depot in South El Monte," Schneider President and CEO Mark Rourke said in a company release. "It was important to develop onsite charging because it is the most efficient solution to power our growing electric fleet. With the infrastructure deficiency, we found that we needed to collaborate with a wide array of experts to see our vision come to fruition."
"We know the future of sustainable transportation includes electric," Rourke added. "That is why we invested and collaborated with stakeholders along the supply chain to work together to create this infrastructure and ultimately lower carbon emissions. This would not be possible without our funding and grant agencies."
A 4,900-square-foot charging hub
The charging site is over half the size of a football field. It is centrally located within the metro Los Angeles area, adjacent to major highways with a high density of customers within a 50-mile radius, according to the release from Schneider. Drivers have already begun hauling deliveries for Frito-Lay North America and Goodyear using the fleet of eCascadias, each of which has a range of about 220 miles.
The South El Monte site was funded through JETSI, and Schneider collaborated with other sustainable companies, such as clean transportation engineering and construction company Black & Veatch, to build the site and create an operationally efficient layout, the release states.
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"This 4,900-square-foot state-of-the-art electric truck charging hub is a monumental testament to innovation and collaboration," said Dave Hallowell, Black & Veatch's president of the connectivity, commercial, and industrial sector. "The collaboration between Schneider and all the project partners will result in new employment opportunities for the area, along with a significant reduction in pollution."
The new Advanced Clean Fleets rule calls on California to be the first jurisdiction in the world to end the sales of conventional trucks with internal combustion engines by 2036, creating a path to 100% zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks on the state's roads by 2045.
Drayage trucks are used most in and around the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach, and local delivery and government fleets must transition by 2035, according to the rule, and garbage trucks must be zero-emission by 2039. All other vehicles covered by the regulation must be ZEVs by 2042. Commercial trucks represent only 6% of California vehicles, according to CARB, but they emit a quarter of the state's on-road greenhouse gases and more than a third of the harmful air pollutant NOx.
Truck, depot project another victory for incentive programs
For the additional 42 trucks outside JETSI, five are funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Targeted Airshed Grant and Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Program (HVIP), seven are funded by the Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, and 30 trucks are funded by California's HVIP.
Schneider worked alongside Daimler Truck North America (DTNA) as the eCascadia evolved, piloting a truck for six months in 2019-2020 through Freightliner's Customer Experience fleet. Feedback from Schneider drivers and the equipment team led to the production of the BET found in the company's fleet today.
"When initiating our electric vehicle development programs, we assisted Schneider as they started and later scaled their fleet of Freightliner eCascadias," said David Carson, Daimler Truck North America's senior VP of sales and marketing. "They've provided our team with vital insight on the opportunities for battery-electric trucks in the goods movement industry. Through the outreach and education being conducted as part of the JETSI project, other fleets can learn from Schneider's experiences and apply them to future deployment of zero-emission vehicles nationwide."