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Brands eye shipping with electric port trucks

Two electric drayage trucks move goods from ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach to warehouses.

Electric drayage trucks operated by shipping company Hight Logistics in Southern California. The charging infrastructure and some of the trucks are owned by Forum Mobility. Image courtesy of Hight Logistics

Scooter company Lime has committed to using electric port trucks to move its goods that are imported into North America, the company exclusively tells Axios.

Why it matters: Consumer brands with aggressive net zero goals want suppliers to offer electric vehicle shipping options.

  • Port trucks will be some of the first large trucks to go electric.

Zoom in: Lime is working with Hight Logistics, a mid-sized logistics provider at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, that is Forum Mobility's first customer.

  • Hight currently operates six electric trucks with 14 more arriving in the coming months. Forum built out Hight's charging infrastructure and owns some of its vehicles.
  • Hight's electric trucks will pick up about 300 of Lime's shipments per year and move them to local distribution centers.
  • Lime's VP of sustainability Andrew Savage said the company pays the same price for the zero-emission drayage services as it would for diesel-powered shipping.

Zoom out: Uber Freight, Uber's logistics arm, commissioned a survey that found that shippers would routinely opt for an electric option if they didn't have to pay more, says Chinmay Jaju, Uber Freight's senior manager for strategy and business development.

  • Hight's founder and CEO Rudy Diaz says at least 10 companies have approached him.

The big picture: Policy is another lever driving the electrification of trucks for shipping.

  • California has mandated that all trucks operating out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach need to be zero emission by 2035.
  • The port rules will help the state meet its climate change goals, but also clean up the air for communities that live around the truck routes.
  • Earlier this week the Biden administration released a national strategy to speed up the deployment of charging infrastructure for zero-emission freight trucks.

Investors have also begun committing to the electric port truck transition.

  • Last year, Forum Mobility raised a $400 million infrastructure fund from an affiliate of commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group and Homecoming Capital.
  • In early 2022, BlackRock's Renewable Power Group joined with Daimler Truck North America and NextEra Energy Resources with a $650 million fund to deploy charging infrastructure for zero-emission trucks.

Yes, but: It's still early days for the transition to electric logistics.

  • Truck operators still find electric trucks difficult to obtain and charging infrastructure is particularly challenging to navigate.

What's next: Expect more big brands to opt for electric port truck shipping as word spreads that they don't have to pay extra.

  • "No one's going to make the wheels of zero-emission trucks move faster than the cargo owners," says Forum Mobility CEO Matt LeDucq.
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