L.A. port to test electric tractors

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The Port of Los Angeles will test all-electric tractors to tow cargo containers to local warehouses and railyards. The port and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the regional agency responsible for controlling air pollution in the Los Angeles area, have funded the $527,000 initiative to explore the feasibility of replacing diesel trucks with the all-electric units, according to a joint announcement.

The project is the first approved under the $15 million Technology Advancement Program contained within the Clean Air Action Plan approved by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in November. As part of that plan, the Port of Los Angeles has committed $85 million in the next five years for truck replacement and retrofits. The regional air-pollution agency has committed $48 million to replace older diesel trucks and tackle related projects, such as the electric tractors.

In the next seven months, project leaders expect to develop and test a bare-bones chassis. The goal is for the all-electric tractor to charge quickly, reach a speed of 25 mph, have a 40-mile range per charge and have sufficient torque and power to tow a 60,000-pound container. Balqon Corp. of Aliso Viejo, Calif., a maker of all-electric carts like those used to haul passengers and luggage in airports, will be the project’s technology provider, working with Spartan Truck Co. on trailers and related equipment.