LOS ANGELES – The Port of Los Angeles views a 30-ton prototype vehicle it has had in service since January as a forerunner of a fleet of electric trucks to serve terminals and rail yards, according to www.latimes.com. So far, the vehicle has logged 360 miles on the odometer. 

Port authorities believe electric trucks could substantially reduce emissions generated by an estimated 1.2 million diesel short-haul truck trips that are made each year between the L.A. and Long Beach port complex and local warehouses and rail yards. If those trips were made by zero-emission electric trucks, port officials said, about 35,600 tons of tailpipe pollution would be eliminated annually.

The electric truck was developed by Santa Ana-based Balqon Corp. in a jointly funded effort led by the port and the South Coast Air Quality Management District. Balqon has agreed to establish an electric truck assembly plant near the port, where cargo container traffic is expected to double by 2020. 

Although electric truck tests are still underway, the port has already ordered 20 more of the vehicles at a cost of $208,000 each. The electric truck, which takes about three hours to charge, has a range of about 30 miles while pulling a 60,000-pound cargo container, and about 60 miles empty. It costs about 20 cents a mile to operate, or about four to nine times less than a diesel truck, depending on fluctuating fuel costs and operating conditions.