Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Electric truck charging depots power up

A row in electric trucks at a charging depot in Bakersfield, Calif.

A row of electric trucks at a new charging depot in Bakersfield, Calif., developed by WattEV. Photo: Courtesy of WattEV

A wave of electric truck charging depots are going online in California this spring, driven by state mandates and incentives, and money saved by ditching diesel.

Why it matters: The market for large electric trucks is still at an early phase, and getting enough infrastructure deployed will be key to kickstarting the sector.

Driving the news: EV infrastructure company WattEV on Monday opened a 115-acre truck-charging depot in Bakersfield, Calif.

  • The site has 50 charger dispensers, including 3-megawatt chargers (called MCS) that can charge trucks in about 30 minutes. WattEV says the MCS chargers at its site are the first to be deployed in the U.S.
  • The site has 100 acres dedicated to a solar panel farm and has 5 MW of solar and 3 MWH of battery storage built out.
  • WattEV recently announced a financing partnership with Apollo-managed funds and Swiss energy company Vitol to scale its depots.

Yes, but: There are few trucks on the roads today that can actually use a megawatt charger.

State of play: WattEV's station, its fourth one, is the latest truck charging depot to open for business, but there are others in development.

  • Next week, charging depot company Forum Mobility is holding a groundbreaking ceremony for a charging depot at the Port of Long Beach, expected to start operating in the fourth quarter of the year.
  • Greenlane — a joint venture between BlackRock, NextEra Energy Resources, and Daimler Truck North America — plans to open its first depot in Colton, Calif., in the fourth quarter of this year.
  • Charging startup TeraWatt Infrastructure last fall broke ground on a site near the Long Beach port.

Zoom in: These well-funded companies are all trying to move swiftly to get the best real estate, sign the biggest deals and get enough power to their depots.

  • EV truck charging depots are relatively power intensive, and utilities will need to manage this new load alongside the broader rise in electricity demand.

The big picture: California sites, like ports, will be home to some of the first places in the U.S. to adopt heavy-duty electric trucks.

  • The state has aggressive mandates and strong incentives pushing fleet operators and truck manufacturers to adopt electric trucks.
  • The communities living around ports and distribution hubs have also been exposed to high levels of air pollution from diesel trucks, and state and regional governments are eager to clean that up.
  • A growing number of big brands are interested in shipping their goods via zero-emission vehicles to meet their sustainability goals.

Bottom line: While it's still early days for heavy-duty electric trucks, companies and investors are breaking ground and doing deals.

Go deeper