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Port of Los Angeles Makes History with First Commercial Electric Cargo Handlers

The Port of Los Angeles (POLA) has taken a significant step towards a zero-emission future, deploying the first commercially available electric cargo top handlers in the United States.

This milestone marks a major shift in cargo handling operations at the port. Five electric, American-made top handlers, purchased by Yusen Terminals, will replace diesel-powered equipment, significantly reducing emissions.

“We are building a cleaner Los Angeles,” declared Mayor Karen Bass. “This project supports frontline communities, invests in clean energy and creates good-paying jobs – all crucial steps as we transition the Port to clean technology.”

“These electric top handlers are the product of years of testing and development right here at the port,” said POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka. He commended Yusen Terminals for their leadership and vision in adopting this groundbreaking technology.

Yusen Terminals President and CEO Alan McCorkle echoed Seroka’s sentiment, calling it “a major first step in our journey to zero emissions.”

Cargo top handlers are crucial workhorses at ports. These off-road vehicles with overhead booms typically use diesel fuel to handle massive containers, weighing up to 75,000 pounds each. They load, unload and stack containers onto trucks and trains, keeping the flow of goods moving.

The Port of Los Angeles played a pioneering role in this initiative. Back in 2019, they became the first port globally to test electric top-handler prototypes. This collaboration with Taylor Machine Works, a leading U.S. manufacturer, laid the groundwork for the commercially viable units now deployed at Yusen Terminals.

The new Taylor ZLC 996 top handlers are powered by a robust 650V battery system. They can operate for two full work shifts on a single charge, followed by a quick five-hour boost using a powerful 180W recharger.

Diesel top handlers currently account for roughly 30% of all emissions generated by cargo handling equipment at the Port. Replacing them with electric alternatives is a key strategy in the port’s fight against pollution.

POLA is actively promoting the use of such equipment. Last month, they submitted a $412 million grant application to the Environmental Protection Agency. These funds would support the deployment of hundreds of electric cargo handling equipment pieces, electric drayage trucks and community zero-emission initiatives. If awarded, the grant, coupled with additional funding from the port and private partners, could result in a reduction of nearly 41,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

The deployment of electric top handlers at Yusen Terminals is just one step on the Port of Los Angeles’ journey towards sustainability. They are committed to achieving ambitious goals, including transitioning all cargo handling equipment at their terminals to zero-emission by 2030 and all drayage trucks calling on the port to zero-emission by 2035.

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