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Amazon debuts electric trucks in ocean freight operations

Amazon electric truck
Amazon is deploying electric trucks in Southern California.

Amazon is rolling out electric trucks across Southern California, including the first it has ever used in its ocean freight operations.

Amazon is deploying nearly 50 heavy-duty electric trucks in the region, marking its largest fleet of these vehicles in any country so far. The fully electric trucks will haul cargo containers and customer packages in Amazon’s first- and middle-mile delivery operations.

First mile, or global logistics, is where goods are moved from where they are manufactured, through customs, across oceans, into ports, and then into the Amazon fulfillment network. The company’s first-ever electric trucks in its ocean freight operations, also known as drayage trucks, have started operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with 12 expected by the end of the year. 

The electric drayage trucks transport containers from the ports to an Amazon facility in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., where items are prepared for the middle mile. Trucks in middle mile move customer orders between Amazon’s fulfillment centers, sort centers, air facilities, and then delivery stations, where packages are loaded into last-mile vans to be delivered to customer addresses. 

Amazon has deployed a total of 35 electric heavy-duty vehicles in Southern California and has installed over 45 direct current (DC) fast chargers across 11 sites to supply power to the trucks.

The battery-electric Class 8 Volvo VNR Electric trucks have a range of up to 275 miles and a gross combination weight of 82,000 pounds. The heavy-duty vehicles are also equipped with safety features including active collision mitigation, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control. 

Amazon continues to expand its zero-emission fleet as part of a broader effort to achieve its Climate Pledge commitment to reach net-zero carbon by 2040. The company has been operating electric yard tractors since 2019 and now has over 140 moving trailers around its sites in the U.S. country.

And in 2022, Amazon launched custom electric delivery vans from Rivian and has rolled out more than 13,500 across the country since that time. Amazon also founded the Zero Emission Maritime Buyers Alliance (ZEMBA) alongside The Aspen Institute, Patagonia, and Tchibo to enable companies to access zero-emission shipping solutions that are not currently available.

All these initiatives are occurring as the federal government has just announced the first national goal to transition to a zero-emissions freight sector for truck, rail, aviation and marine. 

"We’re proud to launch our largest fleet of electric heavy-duty vehicles yet in California," said Udit Madan, VP of Worldwide Amazon Operations, in a corporate blog post. "Heavy-duty trucking is a particularly difficult area to decarbonize, which makes us all the more excited to have these vehicles on the road today. We’ll use what we learn from deploying these vehicles as we continue to identify and invest in solutions to reduce emissions in our transportation network, and to impact sustainability in the trucking industry more broadly."

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