Grant funding has been a significant source of income for transportation startup WattEV, which recently secured $4.7 million in grants that will be allocated toward the purchase of heavy-duty electric trucks and development of a charging depot.
The El Segundo startup plans to offer heavy-duty electric trucks to shippers and carriers at a per-mile rate. The service includes use of the company’s four charging depots, which are located in Southern California.
The recent grants come as the company is expanding its fleet and building out its charging depots.
One grant worth $3 million was acquired from the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG). The planning organization has a “Last-Mile Freight Program” that provides funding to companies such as WattEV.
“The Last-Might Freight Program helps Southern California focus on emission reductions and improve air quality while strengthening our supply chains in Southern California to deliver goods to the nation,” Jan Harnik, the mayor of Palm Desert and president of SCAG, said in a statement.
WattEV will use the $3 million SCAG grant for the purchase of 20 of its initial fleet of 50 Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. WattEV Chief Executive Salim Youssefzadeh told the Business Journal in a previous story that the trucks cost about $500,000 each, not including taxes and fees.
Electric trucks are anywhere from two to three times more expensive than traditional diesel trucks, making grant funds a crucial source of financial support for WattEV, which has an internal team that applies for and administers grants.
“Given the cost disparity between combustion-engine transport and its existing infrastructure, it’s essential for us to rely on vehicle grants to run a profitable business, especially with the high cost of electric trucks,” Youssefzadeh wrote in an email to the Business Journal. “Without the grants we will not be able to offer our services at near cost parity with combustion engines.”