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First commercial electric cargo handlers operate at Port of Los Angeles

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LOS ANGELES : The Port of Los Angeles has achieved another significant milestone in its journey towards becoming a zero-emission (ZE) port by deploying the first commercially available battery-powered electric cargo top handlers in the United States.

“We are building a greener Los Angeles together that supports frontline communities while making major investments in clean energy and creating thousands of good-paying jobs in the process,” stated Karen Bass, mayor of Los Angeles.

Yusen Terminals has acquired five electric, human-operated top handlers to replace their more polluting, diesel-powered counterparts. These top handlers, typically diesel-powered, are off-road vehicles equipped with an overhead boom designed to load containers weighing up to 75,000 pounds onto trucks and trains and unload and stack them at terminals.

Morover, in 2019, the Port of Los Angeles became the world’s first to test ZE top handler prototypes, designed and manufactured by Taylor Machine Works, a leading US-based heavy-duty equipment maker. The comprehensive real-world testing of these battery-powered prototypes informed the final design of the commercial Taylor units now in use at Yusen Terminals.

The new Taylor ZLC 996 top handlers feature a 650V all-electric battery power drivetrain, capable of operating for two full shifts under normal conditions and requiring just a five-hour boost using a 180W recharger.

Currently, 215 diesel top handlers are used throughout the Port of Los Angeles, contributing to about 30% of all emissions from cargo-handling equipment at the Californian port’s terminals. Promoting the use of ZE top handlers is one of many strategies the Port is employing to advance the market for new emission-free technologies.

In line with this goal, the Los Angeles port recently applied for a US$412 million grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support the deployment of 424 pieces of ZE cargo handling equipment, 250 ZE drayage trucks, and US$50 million for community ZE initiatives.

If granted, the EPA funds would be matched with an additional US$233 million from the Port and several private sector partners, potentially reducing greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 41,500 tons.

In addition, the deployment of electric top handlers at Yusen Terminal is part of a broader range of Port of Los Angeles programs aimed at achieving its leading sustainability goals, including transitioning all cargo handling equipment at its terminals to ZE by 2030 and converting all drayage trucks calling at the Port to ZE by 2035.

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