Port of LA OKs small vehicle fleet purchases aimed at ‘cleanest’ models possible

The Los Angeles harbor commission unanimously authorized the Port of LA to spend as much as $3.5 million annually to update its fleet of light- and medium-duty trucks and passenger cars on Thursday, Jan. 25 — with the stipulation that the vehicles be the “cleanest” possible models.

While Los Angeles city has set a 2050 goal for 100% zero-emissions under its Green New Deal, the port is moving faster when possible, Tim Clark, director of the port’s Construction and Maintenance Department, said when a commissioner questioned him about the municipal mandate. But, he added, technology is continuing to progress.

“We’re not waiting to transition,” Clark said. “By 2030, 100% of our (equipment) purchases have to be zero-emission and by 2050, 100% of the fleet has to be zero-emissions.”

Both the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, meanwhile, have deadlines of 2030 and 2035, respectively, to transition their terminal equipment and drayage truck fleet to zero-emissions under their joint Clean Air Action Plan.

Currently there are about 460 light- and medium-duty trucks and passenger cars for the port on the road. They generally are replaced after 100,000 miles of use or 10 years.

“If (a vehicle is) still in good shape,” Clark said, “it will continue to run past 10 years.”

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The port’s contract with National Auto Fleet Group, which the commission approved on Thursday, authorizes an expenditure of up to $3.5 million a year to update the fleet, including passenger cars, small pickups and other smaller trucks and Port Police vehicles.

The port’s Construction and Maintenance Department is required to consult with the Environmental Management Division on purchases, though it may be necessary in some cases to buy vehicles of the same make that already exists in the fleet, a harbor commission board report said.

The port’s environmental plans puts it at the forefront of the transition to an eventual zero-emissions operation, Clark said. Clean technology, however, is still being tested out and improving. Costs are also vacillating as the industry changes.

“We want to be the first,” he said, “but as technology changes, you get better range, more reliability of the (lower emission) vehicles.”

The plan is also to install 140 recharging stations throughout the port for the newer vehicles that are coming online, Clark said.

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