Uber Freight starts its first electric-truck test in California

The Chicago-based company is working with a shipper and a builder of charging stations for heavy-duty vehicles.

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Uber Freight is involved in a test of systems for managing electric heavy-duty trucks.

Uber Freight is involved in a test of systems for managing electric heavy-duty trucks.

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Chicago-based logistics broker Uber Freight said it has launched its first program to expand use of electric trucks in shipping.

The company, part of the ride-hailing provider Uber Technologies, said it is cooperating with a shipper and WattEV, which plans a nationwide network of charging facilities for heavy-duty vehicles. The program is being tested on routes in Southern California and will generate data for making truck transportation more sustainable.

“Electric trucks are finally here,” said Uber Freight’s head of sustainability, Illina Frankiv. She said replacing traditional exhaust-spewing semis “will have a profound impact on logistics, and we’re excited to build the technology platform to enable their seamless integration into supply chains.”

A company spokesman said the program was deployed in January and that the vehicles have logged more than 10,000 miles so far. It hopes the program will grow and draw in customers who are environmentally conscious.

The shipper participating in the project is CHEP, which has a goal of net-zero emissions for its operations by 2040. CHEP is the main operating unit of an Australian company called Brambles that has made sustainability a priority.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified over-the-road freight as a major source of greenhouse gas emissions.

WattEV said it has a short-term goal of expanding its charging network to Northern California and Arizona.

Using the Uber Freight platform, CHEP will schedule and deliver loads, track status and manage paperwork.

An Uber Freight spokesman said the program is having no immediate impact on jobs at the Chicago headquarters inside the Old Post Office, 433 W. Van Buren St. In January, Uber Freight laid off about 150 workers, or about 3% of its staff, with many of the cuts hitting Chicago.

In February, Uber Freight published a somewhat bearish outlook on the shipping industry, saying truckload capacity is outpacing demand. But it saw signs of improving markets later in 2023.

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