Port of Long Beach has tapped a local startup to develop and operate an electric truck charging depot at the Pier A Way.
WattEV Inc. leased a property from the port and is investing about $8 million to install 26 charging bays that will be available to drayage operators by year’s end. Another eight faster and higher-power bays are also planned for the site.
“We see it as a very necessary and a very strategic location … to really show that electrification is possible,” said WattEV’s Chief Executive Salim Youssefzadeh. “You can have charging available, and you can have electric trucks on the road operating in a manner that’s affordable and accessible to all.”
Youssefzadeh was referring to WattEV’s truck-as-a-service offering that will be available at the charging depot, and which provides shippers, third-party logistic companies and others battery-electric Volvo trucks at a per-mile or per-route rates. The EV truck rental fees will be nearly on par with costs associated with operating a diesel truck, according to the company.
The Long Beach location is one of four the company plans to bring online this year. Charging stations are under construction near freight distribution centers and warehouses in Bakersfield, Gardena and San Bernardino. The Bakersfield location sits on115 acres, 100 of which are dedicated to solar energy production and, at full scale, would be able to charge 200 trucks per day. Charging capacity at Port of Long Beach will be 60 trucks a day.
“Obviously, that’s the drop in the bucket when you look at the grand scheme of things and how many trucks are actually operating within the port,” Youssefzadeh said. But he added that the site is going to be one of many in WattEV’s network of charging stations.
“There are also sites that are in the pipeline that will be operational by the end of next year along the I-5 corridor and in the Sacramento area, as well as additional places going eastbound towards Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico,” he said. “Our goal is to have well over 100 sites by the end of 2030, and we hope to have over 12,000 trucks on the road as well.”
Youssefzadeh co-founded WattEV in 2019 with Umar Javed, who serves as the company’s president. His father, Emil Youssefzadeh, and uncle Faramarz Youssefzadeh also have an equity stake. They have raised about $26 million to date, including $6 million in private-equity funding in 2021 and $20 million in state and federal grants related to clean technology. A funding round is currently underway, and monies raised will enable the company to purchase more trucks and expand its network of charging stations, and eventually, start generating profits.