Reporter Peter Eavis and photographer Mark Abramson visited The Port of Los Angeles to assess the state of U.S. freight passing through the southern California terminal, publishing a report in The New York Times in December 2023. New regulation promises to phase out the use of diesel trucks, accounting for a drop in over 1,000 registered vehicles between November 2022 and November 2023.

The Port of Los Angeles handles near 10 million twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEUs) in 2022*, and receiving 1,819 vessels. The value of cargo in 2021/22 was $311 billion making The Port of Los Angeles the busiest container port in the Western Hemisphere.

As owner of Harbor Pride Logistics Inc., Neri Diaz provided one example of the shift towards using electric trucks in a logistics fleet. Diaz has purchased a dozen, $400,000 Nikola Motors electric trucks to transition his the fleet. The new vehicles join an existing collection of 32 diesel vehicles, and cost 50% more per unit.

The charging capacity at Southern California ports is limited, though Forum Mobility is setting up infrastructure to charge vehicles at Port of Long Beach. A charge costs Diaz 40% less than full tanks of diesel.

Other perspectives included Matt Schrap, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association, and James Sallee, a professor in the department of agriculture and resource economics at the University of California, Berkeley, who doubt the industry can make a the transition so soon. In November 2022, 180 electric trucks were registered at the port, 1% of the total vehicles.

Chanel Parson, director of building and transportation electrification at Southern California Edison, stresses the need to better charging infrastructure, echoed by Adam Browning, executive vice president for policy at Forum Mobility, “We need a real Manhattan Project on interconnection."

  • * 6.0 million import, 3.9 million export