Image: CTE

The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) recently received a funding to assist with the deployment of 30 Hyundai XCIENT Class 8 hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks (FCET) in northern California.

California Climate Investments sponsored a portion of the funding, which was awarded by the California Air Resources Board and the California Energy Commission’s Clean Transportation Program. Additionally, the Alameda County Transportation Commission and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District have contributed approximately $6 million in cost-share financing to the project. This will be North America’s largest commercial deployment of Class 8 hydrogen FCETs. These trucks will service the whole northern California region thanks to the sponsorship and cooperation of the City of Oakland and the Port of Oakland.

NorCAL ZERO is spearheading the launch of Hyundai’s XCIENT Class 8 FCET to the United States market. Hyundai, one of the world’s major automakers, will expand its domestic supplier base, a vital step toward cost reductions for zero-emission vehicles. Hyundai XCIENT Class 8 FCETs have a proven range of over 400 miles, which is sufficient for numerous duty cycles. The vehicles can go from Oakland to Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, or as far south as Fresno on a single hydrogen fill.

The truck’s performance characteristics meet all of the fleet’s operator, Glovis America’s, operational standards. Over a six-year period, the new FCETs will give Glovis with a total cost of ownership that is roughly identical to that of Glovis’ diesel trucks, with subsequent cost savings. The vehicles’ operations will be aided by innovative financing supplied by Macquarie Group’s Specialized and Asset Finance Division, which will assist cut vehicle-related costs.

Additionally, FirstElement Fuel will construct and operate a high-capacity, high-throughput liquid hydrogen fuelling station as part of this project. The hydrogen station, which will be supplied by Air Liquide, will support up to 50 trucks and back-to-back fueling. NorCAL Kenworth, situated in San Leandro, will be responsible for maintaining and servicing the trucks in order to maximize their availability in operation. NorCal Kenworth will upgrade its maintenance facility with hydrogen detection and ventilation systems to ensure the vehicles are serviced safely.

CTE began designing the NorCAL ZERO project more than two years ago with the intention of cooperating with the East Bay Municipal Utility District to locate a hydrogen fueling station next to the Port of Oakland for the purpose of fueling Class 8 FCETs. CTE brought together a core group of 13 recognized businesses and organizations, garnering significant support and several endorsements from public officials and industry representatives.

The University of California, Berkeley and the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Study will support the project team with data collecting, community engagement, and communication with port officials, local government agencies, and Oakland neighborhood associations. The Transportation Sustainability Research Center—a unit of the Institute of Transportation Studies—and the Goldman School of Public Policy will spearhead UC Berkeley’s research and outreach initiatives.

“We are proud to fund this hallmark deployment of 30 hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks and improve the air quality in northern California,” said Hannon Rassool, Deputy Director of Fuels and Transportation Division at the California Energy Commission. “These investments will support zero-emission trucks and infrastructure development and deployment as part of the U.S. market ecosystem. Public and private project partners have come together to take a big step forward in decarbonizing freight and goods movement, as part of CARB and CEC’s clean air initiatives.”

“Diesel pollution is the most significant toxic air pollutant in the Bay Area and the deployment of these electric trucks will help improve air quality across the region but especially in communities near the Port of Oakland,” said Jack Broadbent, Executive Officer of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. “The Bay Area Air District is excited to support clean transportation solutions that replace diesel engines and have a real impact on public health.”

Rebecca Kaplan, Vice Mayor of Oakland and council member at-large, serves on the board of the Alameda County Transportation Commission and has been a strong advocate for these zero-emission trucks. “I am thrilled that we were able to work together to obtain this vital funding to bring zero-emission trucks to our community,” said Vice Mayor Kaplan. “This will help reduce pollution and reduce the health impacts that have been suffered here for too long. Hydrogen fuel cells can provide long-haul trucking with zero emissions to protect our community.”

“This project represents a significant milestone in achieving California’s climate and pollution reduction goals, while also cleaning the air in the communities hardest hit by toxic diesel emissions from trucks,” says California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard W. Corey. “By introducing Hyundai into the fuel cell electric truck market, the NorCal Drayage project supported by cap-and-trade proceeds holds promise for further electrification of our nation’s truck fleets. It also puts us one step closer to accelerating our goals for zero-emission drayage trucks, a crucial step for improving air quality in communities adjacent to our ports and along our major freight corridors.”

“The deployment of these trucks in northern California provides a groundbreaking opportunity to demonstrate the exceptional performance of fuel cell electric trucks for an industry that has traditionally relied on conventional diesel and CNG vehicles,” said Jaimie Levin, CTE’s Director of West Coast Operations. “We look forward to being a part of a new era for trucking across the U.S. – one marked by zero-emission vehicles that don’t force fleets to compromise on performance.”

Nedim Husomanovic

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