Amazon’s Bold Move: Volvo Electric Big Rigs to U.S. Ports

Amazon's Bold Move: Volvo Electric Big Rigs to U.S. Ports

Amazon.com, the e-commerce giant, has taken a significant step towards sustainable transportation by introducing the first of a dozen Volvo electric big rigs. These electric trucks are part of Amazon’s initiative to pick up cargo from the bustling container seaport at Southern California. The company is set to deploy these eco-friendly vehicles within this year.

The Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, where these electric big rigs will operate, already sees the use of eight similar semi trucks. The mandate for every drayage truck in this area to be zero-emissions by 2035 is a driving force behind Amazon’s move to adopt electric vehicles.

This deployment marks a milestone for Amazon as it expands its vehicle electrification efforts from seaports to customer delivery services. The overarching goal is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2040, aligning with the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability.

While only a small fraction (1%) of the trucks serving the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex are currently zero-emission vehicles, including 201 electric rigs, the transition to electric heavy-duty trucks presents a unique challenge in the journey to decarbonize the transportation sector.

Udit Madan, Amazon’s vice president of worldwide operations, emphasized the complexities of decarbonizing heavy-duty trucking. He highlighted the necessity of such initiatives in combating climate change and reducing carbon footprint.

In addition to these Volvo electric big rigs, Amazon has already introduced over 13,500 Rivian electric cargo delivery vans across the country since 2022. However, the shift to electric semi trucks poses a more significant challenge due to their capacity for heavier loads and the need for robust charging infrastructure.

Adam Baker, Amazon’s vice president of global logistics, acknowledged the absence of a set playbook for this transition. Gathering crucial data on battery performance will play a pivotal role in determining the scale of the electric truck fleet needed to meet operational demands.

Collaboration is key in this endeavor, with the manufacturer of Amazon’s electric drayage trucks working closely with the company and JAB Hunt, a provider of drivers for the rigs. Keith Brandis, vice president of partnerships and system solutions at Volvo Trucks North America, highlighted the importance of efficient charging infrastructure in facilitating the widespread adoption of electric trucks.

Efforts are underway to establish heavy-duty charging stations to support the transition to zero-emissions vehicles. Amazon’s electric port trucks will initially charge at a specialized facility operated by Forum Mobility, a startup backed by Amazon’s Climate Pledge fund.

Forum Mobility recently commenced the construction of a high-speed charging depot at the Port of Long Beach, capable of serving 44 trucks simultaneously. Amazon stands as the inaugural customer for this innovative facility, which will also cater to other drayage truck operators looking to embrace sustainable transportation practices.

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