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Amazon, CBRE back electric-trucking startup

Jan 17, 2023
Illustration of a delivery truck with a dollar bill on the side

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Forum Mobility, an electric-trucking startup, raised $15 million in Series A funding in addition to $400 million in separate funding dedicated to infrastructure buildout, the company tells Axios.

Why it matters: Converting the nation's fleet of logistics carriers to heavy-duty electric vehicles remains a daunting, expensive task that will require massive investment from the industry's biggest stakeholders.

Details: CBRE Investment Fund, the investment arm of the real estate behemoth, led the all-equity Series A round and will take a board seat at Forum Mobility as part of the round, which closed at the end of December.

  • New investors Elemental Excelerator and Amazon Climate Pledge Fund, the e-commerce giant's climate-focused venture arm, joined the Series A along with existing investors Obvious Ventures, Edison International, Overture and Homecoming Capital.
  • Forum raised a separate $400 million from CBRE Investment Fund and Homecoming Capital to fund its charging station network development as well as the procurement of electric trucks it leases to carriers.

How it works: Forum Mobility develops, owns and operates charging stations for electric heavy-duty trucks between major ports and distribution centers. It also allows carriers to lease electric trucks for a monthly fee or purchase the trucks outright with access to its charging network.

  • Forum's first charging station pilot is operating in Southern California near the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach with its first customer Height Logistics, Forum chief strategy officer Kim Oster tells Axios.
  • Forum plans to build additional charging stations along the same route in Southern California as well as near the Port of Oakland in Northern California, Oster says. Its current slate of projects under development are expected to open by the end of 2023.

Zoom out: The incentives for domestic charging infrastructure and port electrification in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) are less influential than state policy and the companies' own emissions reductions plans, Oster says.

  • Emissions from shipping and logistics would count toward most groups' Scope 3 emissions, which are often harder to track and combat.
  • Even a slight reduction in emissions for companies with large Scope 3 emissions from shipping — hint, Amazon — would result in a large net reduction overall.
  • Amazon's Climate Pledge Fund has also backed biofuel startups in an effort to reduce emissions with its existing fleet, and Amazon's corporate arm has a purchase agreement with EV maker Rivian for 100,000 last-mile delivery vans.

Quick take: Expect even more deep-pocketed logistics and real estate groups to get behind charging infrastructure investments as incentives from the IRA start to roll out.

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