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CALSTART study concludes zero-emission I-710 freight corridor achievable; hybrid truck with catenary or in-road power most feasible option

I-710 Corridor Study Area. Click to enlarge.

A study by CALSTART, an independent California-based organization that evaluates and works to commercialize clean transportation technology, has concluded that the development of a heavy-duty vehicle or vehicle system (truck and infrastructure power source) that can move freight through California’s busy I-710 Corridor with zero emissions (ZE) with a 2035 horizon year has no major technological barriers. In fact, the report suggests, there are several technical approaches that can achieve the desired outcome.

Of the possibilities, CALSTART determined that a “dual mode” or “range extender” hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) with some EV-only capability was seen as the most feasible solution for achieving the ZE corridor, particularly if combined with an infrastructure power source such as catenary or in-road, which would allow for smaller battery packs aboard the vehicles. The most significant barriers would be a sustainable overall economic and business case and corridor market mechanisms.

Background. I-710 is a major north-south interstate freeway connecting the city of Long Beach to central Los Angeles. Within the I-710 Corridor Project study area, I-710 serves as the principal transportation connection for goods movement between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (POLA and POLB), located at the southern terminus of I-710, and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF)/Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) railyards in the cities of Commerce and Vernon.

The I-710 Corridor has high levels of health risks related to high levels of diesel particulate emissions, traffic congestion, high truck volumes, high accident rates, and many design features in need of modernization.

A Major Corridor Study (MCS) completed in March 2005 identified a community-based Locally Preferred Strategy (LPS) consisting of ten general-purpose (GP) lanes plus a separate four-lane freight corridor (e.g. truck-only lanes).

In addition to proposing a separated freight corridor, two of the project alternatives being studied qualifying the freight corridor as a zero tail-pipe emission freight corridor (zero-emission corridor). Via this corridor, trucks would travel from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the Vernon/Commerce rail yards via a separate facility from the general purpose lanes, generating no local emissions.

The I-710 funding partners, including the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Gateway Cities Council of Governments (GCCOG), the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), the Ports, and the Interstate 5 Joint Powers Authority (I-5 JPA) tasked CALSTART with investigating the potential technologies that could achieve the goal of a zero emission corridor, their feasibility, and the challenges to their commercialization within the project’s horizon year of 2035.

Specifically, CALSTART was to examine whether a Class 8 truck could be developed to move freight in the I-710 corridor (roughly 17 miles) with zero emissions.

CALSTART used modified “single-round Delphi Interview” technique, targeting a representative collection of leading manufacturers, suppliers, and technology developers. Confidential interviews, in combination with CALSTART’s industry knowledge and expertise, provided the basis for the report findings. The data was analyzed to determine feasibility, challenges, and timeframe for potential solutions.

Findings and conclusions. CALSTART found that solutions meeting the requirements could be developed based on existing designs and technical knowledge, and require no fundamental research or technology breakthroughs.

Technologies considered were:

  • Dual Mode Hybrid Diesel-Electric Vehicle (HEV)
  • Range Extender Electric Vehicle (REEV) or Plug-In HEV (PHEV)
  • Full electric vehicle (EV)
  • Fuel Cell (EV/REEV)
  • Natural Gas (NG) Hybrid
  • Advanced combustion NG engine with next gen after-treatment
  • Hydrogen Internal Combustion Engine (ICE)
  • Exotic Fuel advanced engines

Infrastructure approaches identified were:

  • Catenary Power Source
  • In-Road Power Source
  • Fast Chargers (electric) at corridor ends
  • Hydrogen Fuel
  • ITS – Intelligent Transportation Systems - mode control, platooning, driverless operation (not an emissions technology, but can be combined with those technologies to increase efficiency)

Small-scale demonstrations could begin immediately and commercialization of proven designs could certainly be achieved by 2035, and could occur within the next decade, given appropriate emphasis and support, according to the report.

Recommendations. CALSTART also made a number of recommendations:

  • Recognize the project as a “commercialization process” that must go through a series of critical stages. It is not advisable to jump directly to the desired outcome because competing technologies must be evaluated, tested, proven, and commercialized.

    The commercialization process for a complex product like a Class 8 truck includes significant engineering and development work, including demonstration and validation of early prototypes, building a small number of pre-production vehicles, and constructing a business case for moving to full production over the course of several years.

    Similarly, the other stakeholders in the Corridor must work through the steps of transitioning from their current business processes and approaches into a new structure that incorporates zero-emissions as a critical component—a new set of market mechanisms must be developed and adopted or the goal of a ZE Corridor may not be achieved.

  • Recognize and develop plans for funding that covers not only advancing and demonstrating technologies, but also shaping and creating the frameworks, market mechanisms and marketplace for an I-710 zero-emissions freight corridor and ZE trucks. In concert with this, investigate and develop the market mechanisms for an overall economic case, including regulatory requirements and financial support required to make the corridor function.

  • Launch a Vehicle Development (industry) Working Group to address issues raised in this study on vehicle performance needs, market size, alternative vehicle markets and uses.

  • Launch a User Needs Working Group to identify end user needs and vehicle design parameters. The performance needs identified will drive design criteria, and ideally would be communicated within 12 months to the Vehicle Development (industry) group.

  • Initiate a Corridor Market Mechanisms Study and Process to assess the best models for financially supporting and enabling ZE trucks. Such a study needs to assess and outline alternative ownership and business models (such as amortizing truck costs with corridor construction costs), and possible regulatory structures to enforce the model.




They didn't research one of the most promising technologies that is available in the short term: battery swap. Standardising on a few battery formats seems more feasible for trucks than for passenger vehicles. You could even swap in hybrid battery/range extender units when a truck reaches the end of the I-710 corridor.

Where's Better Place when you need them?


Balqon's electric drayage truck offers a battery-swap option.

The thing I find sad is that dual-mode (Blade Runner) was not considered.  Putting trucks on rails eliminates most pavement damage, and the tight "platooning" feasible with rail might allow the 4 lane transport corridor to be reduced to 2 lanes.  On top of this, rail creates an electrical return path for an overhead single-conductor power supply.


E-P, I hear you on the Blade Runner.

E-P & Anne, I read something last night: It seens battery swapping has some history. This from wikipedia -

Acceptance of electric cars was initially hampered by a lack of power infrastructure, but by 1912, many homes were wired for electricity, enabling a surge in the popularity of the cars. At the turn of the century, 40 percent of American automobiles were powered by steam, 38 percent by electricity, and 22 percent by gasoline. 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States, and America became the country where electric cars had gained the most acceptance.[13] While basic electric cars cost under $1,000 (in 1900 dollars, roughly $28,000 today), most early electric vehicles were massive, ornate carriages designed for the upper-class customers that made them popular. They featured luxurious interiors, replete with expensive materials, and averaged $3,000 by 1900 (roughly $84,000 today). Sales of electric cars peaked in 1912.

In order to overcome the limited operating range of electric vehicles, and the lack of recharging infrastructure, a exchangeable battery service was first proposed as early as 1896.[14] The concept was first put into practice by Hartford Electric Light Company through the GeVeCo battery service and initially available for electric trucks. The vehicle owner purchased the vehicle from General Vehicle Company (GVC, a subsidiary of the General Electric Company) without a battery and the electricity was purchase from Hartford Electric through an exchangeable battery. The owner paid a variable per-mile charge and a monthly service fee to cover maintenance and storage of the truck. Both vehicles and batteries were modified to facilitate a fast battery exchange. The service was provided between 1910 to 1924 and during that periord covered more than 6 million miles. Beginning in 1917 a similar successful service was operated in Chicago for owners of Milburn Light Electric cars who also could buy the vehicle without the batteries.


ai_vin...thank you for the interesting information on early EVs

Yes, a very high percentage of light and heavy trucks and passengers could be taken off the highways and loaded on very high speed more efficient e-trains (where and when they exist). That's what China is trying to do with up to 160,000 Km of new very high speed rails. It will most likely succeed by 2020/2030.


This country made a big mistake when we shrunk the fantastic rail system we had at one time. If we still had it to build on, we could have one of the most efficient distribution systems on the planet. Infrastructure costs would be far lower, taking into consideration the damage, death and destruction caused by mixing monstrous trucks and cars on our highways.

Atlanta gave up the most fantastic Trackless Trolley system some years ago. I'll bet a lot of them would like to have it back. I would certainly use it if I still lived there. Just imagine how efficient they would be with regenerative braking.


Lucas my friend, have you seem this?


What struck me when I watched that is how similar the tactics are in other scams we've seen: "Please, think of the childern."


Thank you al_vin. I had not seen that.

It certainly made my point.


Why transition to and from trucks at all?

Can't they move the cargo in it's present containers from POLA/POLB to the BNSF/UPRR railyards by rail (flatcars or whatever)?

Why convert hundreds(?) of trucks?

How many trucks ARE they talking about here and are they just for this route?



All this to move freight 17 miles ?

This is crazy.

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