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June 14, 2016 12:30 PM, EDT

California Funds Greater Use of Electric-Powered Heavy-Duty Trucks

National Retail Systems Inc.

California has expanded its testing of zero-emissions electric-powered heavy-duty vehicles as the state grapples with finding solutions to the worst air quality in the nation in several of its cities, experts said.

San Bernardino Associated Governments said the state awarded it $9 million for a project already begun to use 27 zero-emission electric-powered trucks to replace heavy-duty tractors using diesel in rail yards and large-scale freight distribution centers beside residential communities.

The funds come from the California Climate Investments program, Sanbag said.

“To my knowledge, every heavy-duty electric vehicle operating in California has received some type of government incentives. In today’s market, it takes the right combination of operations, environmental pressures, and incentives to make a heavy-duty electric vehicle deployment happen,” said Patrick Couch, vice president of technical services at the consulting firm Gladstein Neandross & Associates, based in Santa Monica, California.

RELATED: Electric Trucks Already in Service in California, but Obstacles to Widespread Use Remain

The American Lung Association’s online ranking of the nation’s most polluted cities shows when locales are judged by year-round particle pollution, and California claims the top seven spots. The group said California cities also claimed the top four spots nationally when evaluated by either ozone levels or short-term particle pollution.

The project will use 23 battery-electric Class 8 yard trucks, also known as ‘yard goats,’ which are used to move heavy freight containers short distances within freight yards, warehouses, distribution centers and port terminals, Sanbag said.

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It said the project also involves four Class 5 medium-duty service trucks. BNSF Railway will operate the trucks at two of its intermodal rail yards in the cities of San Bernardino and Commerce; Daylight Transport will also operate the trucks at its new truck freight transfer facility in Fontana.

The fully electric trucks will be designed and manufactured by BYD Motors in Lancaster, California, Sanbag said.

BYD said it is one of China’s largest companies and the “world’s largest” manufacturer of rechargeable batteries.