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#PROGRESS: Ports of Long Beach, L.A. unveil new zero-emission vehicles

A fully electric terminal tractor sits on display at the civic center in Long Beach on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. As part of California Clean Air Day, the Port of Long Beach displayed five electric and alternative fuel vehicles that they have in their fleet. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)

PortandTerminal.com, October 3, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA – The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles will soon deploy new zero-emissions vehicles at some of their terminals, as they continue testing technology that will help them become more eco-friendly, officials at the twin port complex announced separately Wednesday, Oct. 2.

Both ports have made it their goal to fully transition from diesel-powered to zero-emission cargo-handling equipment by 2030.

The Port of Long Beach unveiled a new battery-electric yard tractor during an evening ceremony at the Civic Center. That tractor — the term for the vehicle portion of tractor-trailer big rigs that commonly roam freeways — will carry cargo containers from the Long Beach Container Terminal, in Pier E, to the rail yard. It is one of five vehicles the port will deploy over the next month for a two-year testing period, thanks to a $5.3 million grant from the California Air Resources Board, officials said.

Pier E will also have a fuel-cell yard tractor. (A fuel cell generates power from an energy source, while a battery stores energy.) The other vehicles, according to port officials, are battery-electric top handlers, which look like a mix between a fork lift and a crane; the top handlers will place them onto tractors. Pier E will get one top handler and Pier J will get two.

Officials will determine the long-term future of the vehicles after the testing period, which will include accessing how long the batteries last and how much power they have, said Long Beach port spokesman Lee Peterson.

“Those who said the technology wouldn’t be green for many years,” said Long Beach port Executive Director Mario Cordero, “you see before you that it is available.”

The Port of Los Angeles, meanwhile, announced that it will begin a one-year demonstration of two battery-electric top handlers as well. The two zero-emission vehicles are prototypes that cost $1.8 million each, said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

The top handlers, according to a statement from the port, can operate up to 18 hours between charges and can load containers weighing as much as 75,000 pounds onto trucks. They will begin operating at the Everport Container Terminal by the end of the year.

The demonstration of the top handlers, Sanfield said, will help move them from prototypes to commercial-ready — with the expectation that Everport and other terminal operators will eventually deploy newer versions on a more widespread scale.

“We’re excited to power up these battery-electric top handlers,” said L.A. port Executive Director Gene Seroka, “and test them under the real-world conditions of a working container terminal.”

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