Amazon puts first electric semi trucks into ocean freight operation

Southern California truck spotters will have plenty of electric semi trucks to watch out for as Amazon adds fifty Class 8 EVs to its commercial fleet.

The fully electric Volvo semi trucks purchased will haul both heavy cargo containers and customer package loads in Amazon’s first- and middle-mile operations in California. The trucks will join the hundreds of last-mile electric vans from Ford and Rivian that are already delivering packages across the golden state.

These are the first-ever electric trucks in the company’s ocean freight operations, also known as drayage operations. They’ve already started hitting the road at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with a dozen expected to be in service by the end of the year.

“We’re proud to launch our largest fleet of electric heavy-duty vehicles yet in California,” said Udit Madan, vice president of Worldwide Amazon Operations. “Heavy-duty trucking is a particularly difficult area to decarbonize, which makes us all the more excited to have these vehicles on the road today. We’ll use what we learn from deploying these vehicles as we continue to identify and invest in solutions to reduce emissions in our transportation network, and to impact sustainability in the trucking industry more broadly.”

Amazon picks Volvo VNR Electric semi

Volvo VNR Electric heavy-haul Class 8 BEV; via Amazon.

Amazon’s electric semi of choice this time is the Volvo VNR Electric. These class 8 trucks have a range of up to 275 miles with a gross combined vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 82,000 pounds. The heavy-duty Volvo trucks ship with a number of safety features that will be familiar to Volvo Car owners, including active collision mitigation, blind-spot detection, lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.

Altogether, the Volvo VNRs Amazon just added to its fleet are projected to travel more than 1 million miles each year with zero harmful carbon and diesel particulate emissions coming out of their exhaust pipes.

Electrek’s Take

Volvo VNR Electric in oceanside drayage operation; via Amazon.

On the one hand, Amazon is making a big deal out of buying electric drayage trucks – which isn’t really big a deal in 2024, since that’s a legal requirement at this point. You literally can’t buy a new, internal combustion drayage truck in California as of this year.

That said, I’m a “celebrate every positive change” kind of guy, and the people who live and work around Amazon’s operations will be literally and figuratively breathing easier with these trucks in operation. As such, I’m willing to give California Governor Gavin Newsom a victory lap.

“California continues to lead the way in setting world-leading climate goals. No other state has created the kind of environment where Amazon and other businesses can lead on sustainability and take major steps forward like deploying this fleet of electric trucks,” said Gavin, in a statement. “California’s climate action continues powering our economy and creating jobs.”


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