Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) have deployed the first of a planned 15 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) medium-duty delivery vans, as part of their collaborative effort to replace diesel-powered vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. SoCalGas said its support and funding of the project are aimed to help propel ongoing advancements toward the commercialization of zero-emission, medium-duty vehicles and potentially assist companies in decarbonizing their fleets. A leading courier service is driving these hydrogen FCEV vans to facilitate package deliveries in underserved communities within the Inland Empire, a metropolitan area or region inland of and adjacent to coastal Southern California.
The team said they successfully retrofitted and converted diesel delivery vans to a hybrid electric drive, incorporating on-board hydrogen storage and a fuel cell range extender. Frequent stops made during deliveries allow the onboard hydrogen system to recharge the battery, extending the vehicle range and allowing the courier service to meet their route range requirements, the companies said.
“This project is a successful private, public partnership that showcases green technology and environmental stewardship,” Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD executive officer said. “With every package delivered using these emission-free vans, we are closer to reducing air pollution in our communities.”
The delivery vans benefit from easy access to a public hydrogen fueling station in Ontario, which serves as a refueling point for the retrofitted vans, SoCalGas said. These vans serve a high concentration of disadvantaged communities, and the conversion to hydrogen FCEVs could help mitigate localized pollution concerns associated with package delivery. The project team will continue monitoring the emissions reduction results during this pilot project, providing valuable insight for similar initiatives.
CTE said its broader efforts have assisted nearly 100 transit agencies that have either deployed or will deploy more than 700 zero-emission buses and has managed or participated in almost 40 major projects across the country, helping agencies prepare strategic plans to shift their full fleet of vehicles to zero-emission.
While CTE said its work has helped accelerate the shift toward zero-emissions transportation, SoCalGas said it is also helping to lead the charge. The company said its focus on sustainability was notably recognized last year when it received the Leading Private Fleet Award at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo. This honor acknowledges SoCalGas’ efforts towards executing its Aspire 2045 sustainability strategy, which includes working to replace 50% of its over-the-road fleet with clean fuel vehicles by 2025 and operating a zero-emission fleet by 2035. Currently, a third of SoCalGas’ fleet operates on clean fuels.