The Port of Los Angeles this month unveiled a first-of-its-kind all-electric truck that officials hope can play a meaningful part in the growing effort to reduce port-related pollution.

The Nautilus E30 was developed over the past year in coordination with Santa Ana-based Balqon Corp. and the South Coast Air Quality Management District.

The quiet, boxy rig can haul a 60,000-pound cargo container and can reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour. The truck can travel as far as 60 miles on one charge, making it useful only for short-haul drayage to and from local warehouses.

On the eve of the ports' joint Clean Trucks Program, which will replace about 16,000 local trucks with cleaner burning models at a cost of more than $2 billion, local officials are cheering this achievement as a boon to the overall clean air effort.

"We are telling the people of our port communities that the days of big, belching black smoke are numbered," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at the recent unveiling of the truck. "We are investing in technology that will clean our port, clear our skies and grow green jobs."

The L.A. Area Chamber of Commerce also lauded the introduction of the truck in a press release that said it's the kind of innovation that will allow further growth at the port by reducing pollution.

The truck's development was funded by a $527,000 grant from the port and the air quality agency.

Not only will the trucks reduce emissions, but they can save money in the long run on fuel though it's unclear how long it would take to recover their higher upfront costs.

A Balqon executive said with all the fuel wasted by idling diesel trucks, the electric rig could save more than $35,000 per year in fuel costs. But the port is spending more than $1 million to purchase five of the trucks and related charging equipment.

Balqon agreed to transfer its electric truck operations to Harbor City, just a few miles from the port.

Major Partnership

Enova Systems Inc., a Torrance-based developer of drive systems for electric and hybrid vehicles, announced a major, lucrative deal last week.

The company, which recorded 2007 sales just topping $9 million, entered into a supply agreement with a school bus manufacturer valued at more than $120 million through 2010.

Under the contract, Enova will supply its proprietary electric drive system to IC Bus for use in hybrid-electric school buses. IC is a wholly owned affiliate of Warrenville, Ill.-based Navistar International Corp., the largest school bus manufacturer in the United States.

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