Ten Class 8 Peterbilt Model 579EVs running drayage in the Port of Oakland illustratrate two facts of heavy-duty electrification:

Class 8 Battery-electric trucks are for real.
They only work where infrastructure is in place to charge them.

Shippers Transport Express (STE) has both working for it in a three-month demonstration. 

“With the recent completion of the charging infrastructure at the Port of Oakland, right now is the perfect time to put our 10 Peterbilt Model 579EVs into service and demonstrate the benefits zero-emission trucks will provide moving cargo around our California ports,” Guy Sanderson, general manager at Shippers Oakland, the local operation of STE said in a Peterbilt press release Monday.

Carson, California-based STE operates out of four West Coast ports. 

The $5.1 million cost of the trucks was paid by a Zero And Near-Zero-Emission Freight Facility (ZANZEFF) grant that is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that redirects pollution fines collected under cap-and-trade regulations to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Data collected from the 10 trucks will include emissions reductions measurements under various loads. The trucks recharge to 80% of capacity in three to four hours using a direct-current (DC) fast charger after completing two to three runs in the port daily.

The Peterbilt trucks join 17 battery-electric trucks operating in the port. But those trucks are limited to short distances and lighter cargo loads because of range and highway weight limitations. 

Rolling into port

The trucks began arriving in Oakland last month as the port debuted 10 electric charging stations and a new electrical substation and power line extension to connect to the charging stations at STE.

“Getting these cleaner-running and quieter trucks into service is a major step in testing the feasibility of battery-electric trucks moving containers,”  Port of Oakland Maritime Director Bryan Brandes said in a July 19 press release.  

The $1.7 million construction program took about two years to complete, consistent with major infrastructure additions that require coordination with utilities, charging station builders and their customers.  

The Port of Oakland, California, installed 10 electric chargers over two years to get ready for 10 Peterbilt Model 579EV trucks now hauling drayage around the port. (Photo: Port of Oakland)

“It’s a matter of, are you planning for these major infrastructure projects?” Rich Mohr, global vice president of fleets for ChargePoint Holdings, a charging-as-a-service provider, told FreightWaves. “Are you planning with utilities far enough in advance so they can meet the demand of that site? They [utilities] want to work with you … as long as you work with them far enough in advance.”

Long Beach next

Five more Model 579EVs are scheduled to be put into service as part of STE’s Port of Long Beach drayage operations in November. Electric units from Daimler Trucks North America and Volvo Trucks North America already are part of the daily crush of drayage trucks moving in and out of Long Beach daily.

PACCAR (NASDAQ: PCAR) CEO Preston Feight said Peterbilt, Kenworth and Europe’s DAF Trucks had 60 electric trucks in operation in Q2 and 450 medium- and heavy-duty electric truck orders, more than any competitor has claimed.

“We anticipate the market just continuing to evolve and grow over the years,” Feight said on PACCAR’s Q2 analyst call on July 27. “So, it starts in the hundreds … and we see it moving to the thousands as that happens.”

Related articles:

PACCAR puts charge into electric trucks with infrastructure plan

PACCAR moves deliberately on electric and driverless trucks

Volvo gets first double-digit order for Class 8 electric trucks

Click for more FreightWaves articles by Alan Adler.