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NFI, one of the nation’s oldest and largest third-party supply chain solutions providers, recently reached a major sustainability milestone by completing several key electrification initiatives. Through the Volvo LIGHTS project, NFI has introduced Volvo VNR Electric Class 8 trucks into its transportation fleet, as well as electrified its yard trucks and forklifts at its warehouse facility in Chino, California. NFI has also installed on-site charging infrastructure for both its growing fleet of electric vehicles and employees’ personal vehicles, paired with solar panels to capture renewable electricity and on-site energy storage to bolster resiliency. Combined, these initiatives help lay the groundwork for NFI’s ambitious plans to integrate electric vehicles into its Chino drayage operations —a fleet which will total more than 65 electric heavy-duty vehicles.
“By critically evaluating the viability of electric trucks for their real-world, commercial operations, NFI is truly using the lessons learned through the Volvo LIGHTS project as a blueprint for fleet electrification,” said Peter Voorhoeve, president, Volvo Trucks North America. “We are proud to partner with NFI as their bold leadership helps provide fleets industry-wide with the knowledge needed to commercially scale zero-emission heavy-duty vehicles.”
The Volvo LIGHTS project is an innovative collaboration between Volvo Trucks, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD) and 13 other organizations to develop a comprehensive ecosystem to successfully introduce battery-electric trucks and equipment into the market at scale.
“NFI is a leading example of how Southern California’s fleets are pushing the industry forward toward a zero-emission future,” said Wayne Nastri, South Coast AQMD’s executive officer. “NFI’s ambitious plans to grow its electric fleet show that with the right partnerships and resources, we can bring cleaner air to the communities that need it most.”
As a partner in the Volvo LIGHTS project, NFI began piloting two Volvo VNR Electric trucks in September. The Volvo VNR Electric trucks join NFI’s fleet of more than 4,500 heavy-duty tractors. Based out of their Chino distribution campus, the Volvo VNR Electric trucks travel 100-mile regional distribution routes. NFI will receive an additional two Volvo VNR Electric trucks in 2021.
“NFI has opted to take a leadership role in electrification because we believe it’s the right thing to do. It’s in the fabric of who we are as an organization,” said Bill Bliem, senior vice president, Fleet Services, NFI. “NFI’s executive team is extremely excited to be a partner of the Volvo LIGHTS project, because we know that together, we can get to where we need to be in our sustainability initiatives and drive the supply chain industry forward.”
Volvo Trucks’ VNR Electric model produces zero tailpipe emissions and significantly reduces heat, noise and vibrations allowing for the cleanest and most comfortable experience for drivers and providing more highly skilled job opportunities for technicians.
“Volvo Trucks is proud to see firsthand the many positive benefits our customers will experience by making the shift to electromobility,” Voorhoeve continued. “Not to imply there won’t also be some new challenges, as with any major change. The Volvo LIGHTS project has provided us with incredible hands-on experience to help our customers successfully navigate electric truck deployments—from understanding the right truck configurations for various operating conditions to efficiently installing charging infrastructure that can accommodate current and future deployments—and everything in between.”
To install and maintain the charging infrastructure needed to support the electric trucks and equipment, NFI worked closely with Volvo Trucks , Southern California Edison, Greenlots, ABB, Core States and the City of Chino in order to upgrade the facility’s power supply and install two 150 kW chargers. The chargers will utilize Greenlots’ SKY software to effectively balance the electricity demand from the trucks, equipment, existing facilities and the electricity grid.
“By utilizing smart charging software, NFI is demonstrating how fleets can implement electric vehicle charging seamlessly and cost-effectively into their existing operations,” said Jeff Tolnar, chief commercial officer for Greenlots. “Developing a proactive charging strategy means fleets can save money while mitigating impacts to California’s energy grid.”
“NFI is actively demonstrating the vision behind the California Climate Investments initiative,” said Sydney Vergis, chief of the mobile source division at the California Air Resources Board. “Holistically evaluating the footprint of your entire operations is vital to building a cleaner California for the future. We applaud NFI’s efforts and are excited for the acceleration of the future zero-emission deployments in our state.”
With support from the Volvo LIGHTS project, NFI has recently deployed two electric Kalmar Ottawa yard tractors, completing a 100% replacement of all of NFI’s yard trucks operating in Southern California’s Inland Empire with zero-emission, battery-electric models—27 in total. In addition, the company is replacing its forklifts at its Chino warehouse facility with Crown lithium-electric forklifts—eight in total—that are supported by Level 2 forklift chargers.
Volvo Trucks North America began taking customer orders for its VNR Electric model on Dec. 3, 2020. Production of the Volvo VNR Electric is slated to begin in early 2021 at Volvo Trucks’ New River Valley manufacturing plant in Dublin, Virginia.
Volvo LIGHTS is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of Cap-and-Trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.