EV Fleet Day offers small embrace of hydrogen fuel cell

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EV Fleet Day returned to San Diego for a second year on April 6
EV Fleet Day returned to San Diego for a second year on April 6

The Biden administration said it and San Diego Gas & Electric appears to be living it.

On Wednesday, the White House announced a proposal for tougher emissions standards that it said will likely result in greater EV production over hydrogen fuel cell, hybrid and internal combustion models, all of which the administration said will also play a role in slashing emissions.

How big of a role, however, is yet to be seen. In the meantime, the White House is betting largely on all-electric by stating “with EV technology getting better and cheaper every day, and consumer demand rising rapidly, many manufacturers would likely rely on fully electric vehicles for compliance.”

SDG&E appears to agree with that all-electric trend given its recent second annual EV Fleet Day. However, the April 6 event also included hydrogen fuel cell vehicle OEMs like Hyzon, Hyundai and Nikola.

SDG&E's press release, shown below, does not mention hydrogen fuel cell but instead includes the aforementioned OEMs among a list of prominent EV players in attendance like BYD, Orange EV, Peterbilt and Volvo.

SDG&E's EV Fleet Day included ZEVX which offers aftermarket EV powertrains to fleets interested in converting existing ICE vehicles to zero-emission electric.SDG&E's EV Fleet Day included ZEVX which offers aftermarket EV powertrains to fleets interested in converting existing ICE vehicles to zero-emission electric.SDG&ESDG&E is no stranger to hydrogen. Though the utility currently only offers natural gas to its customers, it is exploring hydrogen production for the years ahead. On its website, SDG&E states:

Clean hydrogen is poised to become an integral component of the global low carbon economy of the future through the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on both the electric and gas grids. Our region and state are well-suited to pioneer clean hydrogen due to the abundance of solar energy that can be leveraged to produce this carbon-free, gaseous energy carrier.

Specifically at SDG&E, we are exploring the potential of clean hydrogen to help California achieve net zero GHG emissions by 2045. As part of our sustainability strategy, we are developing pilot projects that will test hydrogen for long-duration energy storage, electric generation, vehicle fueling, and blending into an existing natural gas system.

So after doing some digging, it looks like SDG&E is pursuing hydrogen but isn't quite yet prepared to give the clean energy equal billing with EVs. Just our two cents but it looks like gaseous players interested in getting a bigger seat at the green table have plenty of work ahead. 

SDG&E press release

EV Fleet Day returned to San Diego for a second year on April 6, showcasing some of the region’s cleanest fleets, including plug-in electric big rigs, buses, shuttles, garbage trucks, cargo vans and other zero-emission commercial vehicles. Hosted by San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), the event featured nearly two dozen medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, along with vendor exhibits and expert discussions.

Miguel Romero, SDG&E vice president of energy innovation, opened the event which attracted 1,000 fleet operators, EV manufacturers, environmental, public utility and municipal agencies, and community residents. Many attendees climbed into the display vehicles to experience the new technology first-hand.  

"As local businesses and public agencies transition to zero-emission fleets to meet California’s clean air and climate goals, they need technical support and resources,” Romero said. “EV Fleet Day helps them by bringing together key stakeholders regionwide to share best practices for planning, deploying, and maintaining electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support them.”

Held at the Port Pavilion on Broadway Pier in downtown San Diego, the event featured expert panels, such as Transitioning to Electricity for Your Fleet, Connecting to the Electric Grid & Managing Energy, and Learning from Fleet Electrification Case Studies. 

Funding and regulations were two central topics that experts discussed on stage, aware that fleet operators are weighing the effects of the Advanced Clean Fleets rule, which will be considered by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) on April 27-28.  Fleet operators discussed how they are navigating a variety of regulations and funding opportunities, as they transition to sustainable transportation.

SDG&E's EV Fleet Day included panels like this one on GM's Ultium EV Platform.SDG&E's EV Fleet Day included panels like this one on GM's Ultium EV Platform.SDG&ESDG&E is working with local fleet operators through various programs to help them phase out diesel-burning trucks and switch to zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to improve air quality for residents and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

Through its Power Your Drive for Fleets program, SDG&E helps install infrastructure to interconnect chargers for medium- and heavy-duty EVs, working with fleets from the initial planning stage through to design, construction, and ongoing site maintenance. Power Your Drive for Fleets is applicable to Class 2-8 on-road and off-road vehicles, including medium- and heavy-duty trucks and vans. Financial incentives are available for fleets operating in disadvantaged communities and small business fleets. In addition, for businesses currently charging a fleet of EVs, SDG&E offers the EV-HP pricing plan, which eliminates demand charges and simplifies billing. Learn more here

CARB’s Advanced Clean Fleets regulation is poised for approval this month. If approved, it will mean a quick transition to zero-emission fleets in California.

“Ambitious plans are on the table to reduce diesel pollution from medium and heavy duty trucks, which accounts for more than 20% of greenhouse gas emissions and almost 50% of emissions from oxides of nitrogen or NOx,” said CARB board member Diane Takvorian, who is also co-founder and former executive director of the Environmental Health Coalition (EHC). “We know the transition to clean fleets is critical as it will result in health benefits, especially for the communities that are most impacted by diesel and particulate pollution.”

San Diego Airport Parking and Green Power Motor Company are already ahead of the electrification curve, operating a 100% battery-electric airport shuttle fleet since 2021.

“San Diego Airport Parking's shuttles have logged more than 490,000 EV miles, proving that public-private collaborations can be part of the sustainable solution towards California’s clean transportation future,” said Lisa McGhee, business development manager at Green Power Motor Company.

In addition to Green Power Motor Company, nearly other EV solution providers displayed innovative vehicles on the pier including, Orange EV, Workhorse, Creative Bus Sales, Battle Motors, Velocity Truck Centers, BYD, Hyundai, Hyzon, Lightning eMotors, Lion Electric, Nikola, Rivian, Peterbilt, Volvo, XOS Trucks, MTS, Ford of El Cajon.

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