TransPower has received the final piece of funding it needs to go ahead with a demonstration of advanced electric Class 8 drayage trucks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The $3.7 million in funding from several public agencies will enable TransPower to build a fleet of seven battery-electric trucks using its ElecTruck drive system, which uses electric motors relying solely on energy supplied by large battery packs. The trucks will operate cleanly and quietly, plugging into the electric power grid to recharge their batteries.

Funding for the project comes from three sources: the California Energy Commission in a grant administered by Calstart ($2.3 million), a U.S. Department of Energy grant administered by the South Coast Air Quality Management District ($1.1M million), and a Technology Advancement Program (TAP) grant from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach ($0.3 million). The TAP grant, the last increment of funding for this project, was formally approved on June 25.

The seven trucks, all scheduled to deploy by 2014, will transport cargo containers between the L.A./Long Beach port complex and local rail yards and distribution centers. The trucks are expected to operate for up to 100 miles on a single battery charge and recharge in three hours or less, while handling gross vehicle weight loads of up to 80,000 pounds.

In addition to eliminating pollution and carbon emissions, each electric truck can save its operator up to $50,000 a year in fuel costs, according to TransPower CEO Mike Simon.

“These trucks will cost more to build than conventional diesel trucks, but with fuel and other savings, they should recover their additional capital costs within 4-7 years,” he says.

Key innovations that TransPower believes will make these trucks practical and economical to operate include the use of vehicle-mounted “inverter-charger units” that enable fast battery charging without external charging devices, an automated manual transmission that provides high performance in various operating modes while minimizing energy consumption, and a flexible control architecture that will simplify and accelerate adaptation of the ElecTruck drive system to many different truck models.

The truck model to be used in this Electric Drayage Demonstration project is the International ProStar manufactured by Navistar, a partner with TransPower in development of electric truck technologies since 2011.

Total Transportation Services Inc., a leading drayage firm, has already committed to enter TransPower EDD trucks into its fleet, and will assist the Department of Energy and Calstart in collecting data that will be used to further refine the ElecTruck” drive system.

This is not the first foray into alternative-powered drayage vehicles. See related stories:

Kenworth T800 LNG Trucks Help Drayage Fleet

Total Transport Services Plans to Buy 100 Hydrogen-Fuel Class 8s