Orange EV to Launch Electric Yard Truck for Ports

Wayne Mathisen
“It’ll pull more weight and accelerate faster and get to a higher top speed,” Orange EV CEO Wayne Mathisen says of the larger, more durable electric yard truck model set to debut in 2022. (Jerry Hirsch for Transport Topics)

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LONG BEACH, Calif. — After targeting warehouses and distribution centers with its electric yard truck, Orange EV has its eyes on the nation’s ports.

The Kansas City, Mo., electric vehicle startup said it will debut a larger, more durable model next year that will work moving containers at ports. The company made the announcement at the IANA Intermodal Expo on Sept. 13.

“It’ll pull more weight and accelerate faster and get to a higher top speed,” co-founder and CEO Wayne Mathisen told Transport Topics.

Mathisen said the truck will be able to haul 180,000-pound loads at up to 32 mph.

Orange EV already has about 300 electric T-Series Class 8 yard trucks operating at various warehouses and distribution centers. Mathisen said it has the largest fleet of Class 8 electric trucks operating in North America. About two-thirds are in California, where state environmental incentives subsidize the price of the trucks.

Mathisen said he sees a promising market developing as regulators push to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the thousands of trucks working at complexes such as the Port of Long Beach and adjacent Port of Los Angeles.

California is in the initial stages of transitioning its drayage and port operations traffic to electric vehicles.

Mathisen said about 60,000 yard trucks are operating in the U.S., including about 15,000 at the nation’s ports.

But to tackle the port market, Orange EV needs a truck that can make dozens of short trips daily carrying heavy container loads. That’s a different vehicle from what is required to move packages and other goods around at most warehouses and distribution centers.

The new truck, scheduled to be available in the third quarter of next year, will be better fitted for operations that include heavy loads, steep grades and faster speeds. It will have a more robust frame compared with the company’s current T-Series model and a new powertrain, Mathisen said.

But it still is under development. Orange EV does not have a working prototype and has not named the powertrain supplier.

Like Orange EV’s current model, the new truck will have to be durable. Orange EV’s trucks have logged more than 3 million miles of service. But Mathisen said they had done that in just 1 million hours of operations. That means the average trip is just 3 miles.

“These are the hardest working miles out there, right? Because it’s averaging 3 miles an hour picking up one trailer and then moving it into another place, picking up another trailer and moving it,” Mathisen said.


Sharon Brooks of RDS Logistics. (Jerry Hirsch for Transport Topics)

Customers such as Fontana, Calif.-based RDS Logistics Group, an early Orange EV customer, are transitioning their yard truck fleets to electric vehicles.

“They’re easy to manage. They operate well, and they don’t break down,” said Sharon Brooks, president and co-founder of RDS Logistics.

Brooks said the company’s senior drivers gravitate to the electric trucks.

“The cab of the unit is much bigger than our diesel trucks, everything is within easy reach of the drivers,” Brooks said. “They love the way the mirrors are at the side. I have not heard one negative thing from any of our drivers that drive an Orange EV.”

If it is successful with its next model, Orange EV has its sights on more expansion, Mathisen said.

“Over-the-road trucks could be a natural progression for what we’re doing,” he said. “We have an understanding of what it takes to operate in the heavy-duty environment.”

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