California air quality regulators have announced they have approved $US150 million in grants for projects that will put at least 187 zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty trucks into service over the next several years.

An additional $US55 million in grant funding for the projects will be considered at the California Air Resources Board’s October meeting.

Matching funds from participants in the 11 approved projects will boost the total investment to $US415 million.

The projects will fund 156 battery electric trucks and 31 hydrogen fuel cell trucks, as well as several electric locomotives and a wide range of zero-emission freight handling equipment.

Analysts in the  U.S.  say that these types of grants could be critical for U.S. electric vehicle manufacturers in what they see as levelling the playing field and that grants like this are “tried-and-true” technology boosters in many countries.

The grants are funded largely from proceeds of CO2 emission permits auctioned under the state’s Cap and Trade program.

Many of the new projects will be centred at or around the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, but also include programs in San Francisco and the San Joaquin Valley as well.

Participating truck builders include Kenworth, Peterbilt, Tesla, Toyota and Volvo. Truck makers for many of the projects have not yet been identified.

The largest of the 11 projects is a $US102.9-million Sustainable Terminals plan centred at the Port of Long Beach. CARB approved $US50 million with project participants kicking in an additional $US52.9 million.

The funding is for the first phase, to deploy 15 zero-emission Class 8 trucks, 38 battery-electric yard tractors, a hybrid tugboat and numerous other pieces of low- and zero-emissions port-related equipment.

In the second-largest project, valued at $US90.7 million, Volvo  will deploy 23 battery-electric Class 8 trucks at freight facilities in several Southern California cities that serve as warehousing centres for the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

The Volvo Low-Impact Green Heavy Transport Solutions project received a $US44.8-million grant and $US45.9 million from project participants. It also will deploy 24 zero-emission forklifts and 58 battery charging stations at the various facilities.

Toyota and Kenworth are partnering in an $US 82.5-million Shore to Shore project at the Port of Los Angeles. It will see deployment of 10 Class 8 fuel cell trucks using Kenworth chassis and hydrogen fuel cell powertrains developed by Toyota. The project grant grant is for $US41 million.