SoCalGas Partners with CTE to Pioneer Hydrogen Fuel Cell Delivery Vans

By: Sharjeel Sohaib


Oct 25, 2023


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  • Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) have partnered to deploy 15 hydrogen fuel cell electric delivery vans.
  • The project involves retrofitting diesel delivery vans with a hybrid electric drive, onboard hydrogen storage, and a fuel cell range extender.
  • This initiative is backed by various organizations, including the U.S. Department of Energy, South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Energy Commission, and California Air Resources Board

Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and the Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) are driving innovation in the transportation sector by deploying hydrogen fuel cell electric delivery vans. Their joint effort, supported by multiple stakeholders, aims to replace diesel-powered vehicles and reduce greenhouse gas emissions while revolutionizing delivery services.

Pioneering Hydrogen Fuel Cell Electric Vans

SoCalGas and CTE have launched the first of a planned fleet of 15 hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) medium-duty delivery vans. This groundbreaking initiative seeks to tackle emissions and facilitate eco-friendly package deliveries, particularly in underserved communities within the Inland Empire.

Revolutionizing Diesel Delivery Vans

The project involves retrofitting diesel delivery vans into hybrid electric vehicles with onboard hydrogen storage and a fuel cell range extender. During frequent stops made during deliveries, the onboard hydrogen system recharges the battery, enhancing vehicle range and meeting route requirements effectively.

A Collaborative Endeavor

This pilot project has brought together a consortium of experts and organizations, including Accelera by Cummins, Unique Electric Solutions (UES), and the University of Texas – Center for Electromechanics (CEM). It enjoys backing from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO), South Coast Air Quality Management District (South Coast AQMD), California Energy Commission (CEC), and California Air Resources Board (CARB). The “California Climate Investments” (CCI) program further supported this innovative venture.

Environmental Stewardship in Action

South Coast AQMD Executive Officer emphasized the significance of this initiative, stating, “With every package delivered using these emission-free vans, we are closer to reducing air pollution in our communities.” This underscores the project’s contribution to environmental stewardship and cleaner air in local neighborhoods.

Hybrid Technology Integration

Neil Navin, Chief Clean Fuels Officer at SoCalGas, highlighted the intricate technology integration in these delivery vans. The seamless combination of hydrogen storage, fuel cell technology, battery packs, and power electronics ensures sufficient vehicle power while maintaining cargo capacity and weight limits. All these features align with the zero-emission standard.

Promising Emissions Reductions

These hydrogen FCEV vans have easy access to Ontario’s public hydrogen fueling station, ensuring their consistent operation. Serving disadvantaged communities, their transition to hydrogen FCEVs offers a potential solution to localized pollution concerns associated with package delivery. Continuous monitoring of emissions reductions during this pilot project will provide valuable insights for similar efforts.

CTE’s History of Innovation

The Center for Transportation and the Environment (CTE) has significantly accelerated the shift toward zero-emission transportation. Their contributions have assisted numerous transit agencies in deploying zero-emission buses and developing strategic plans to transition to cleaner fleets.

SoCalGas’ Sustainability Commitment: SoCalGas is committed to sustainability and has been recognized for its efforts, receiving the Leading Private Fleet Award at the Advanced Clean Transportation Expo. The company’s ASPIRE 2045 sustainability strategy includes replacing 50% of its over-the-road fleet with clean fuel vehicles by 2025 and achieving a fully zero-emission fleet by 2035. Currently, one-third of SoCalGas’ fleet already operates on clean fuels.

Wrap up

The partnership between SoCalGas and CTE in deploying hydrogen fuel cell electric delivery vans marks a significant stride in decarbonizing the transportation sector. As these innovative vans hit the roads, they reduce emissions and bring us a step closer to a cleaner, more sustainable future for package deliveries in underserved communities.

The successful collaboration and technology integration showcased in this project set an example for future endeavors in achieving zero-emission standards in the transportation industry.


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